February 25, 2015

During earthquake awareness month, Missourians are encouraged to review their insurance coverage

Homeowners policies typically do not cover earthquakes

Jefferson City, Mo. - Missourians should check to make sure their property is covered by earthquake insurance this month. February is Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri and the Missouri Department of Insurance is reminding consumers that homeowner policies do not include this coverage; earthquake insurance must be purchased separately.

"While the last major earthquake in our region occurred in 1812, the threat of another one remains," said John M. Huff, director of the Department of Insurance. "Homeowners should review their coverage and discuss with their insurance agent what options are available to protect their investments and property."

Missouri is home to the New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri and the nation's most active earthquake zone east of the Rocky Mountains. At least three of the largest earthquakes recorded in the continental United States are believed to have occurred in that area from 1811 to 1812 ­- the largest occurred on Feb. 7, 1812.

According to 2013 statistics, if an earthquake strikes along the New Madrid Fault, nearby Mississippi, New Madrid and Pemiscot counties would be hardest hit. However, only 15.7 percent of homes in Pemiscot County had earthquake coverage, 20.2 percent in New Madrid County and 22.4 percent in Mississippi County.

Since 2005 rates in New Madrid County have increased by over 250 percent, 122 percent in Pemiscot County, 118 percent in Mississippi County, 177 percent in Scott County and 107 percent in Dunklin County. Between 2000 and 2014 the number of insurers offering coverage in the state has also declined by nearly 30 percent.

The department has additional information about earthquake insurance at insurance.mo.gov/consumers/home/EQTable.php. Consumers with questions about earthquake coverage are encouraged to call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390.