July 12, 2021

Residences covered by earthquake insurance in highest risk areas of Missouri drops to a historic low of 12.7 percent

New report from the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance shows earthquake coverage plummeting amid sharply escalating premiums

The Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance (DCI) has issued a new Earthquake Insurance Market Report that shows earthquake coverage in the highest risk areas of the New Madrid fault area of the state have hit historic lows. In the six-county New Madrid region of the state, the percentage of residences with earthquake coverage has declined by an astonishing 47 percentage points between 2000 and 2020, from 60.2 to 12.7 percent.

One of the culprits of this continuing fall is the sharply escalating cost of earthquake insurance in the region. In just the last 10 years, costs have increased by 102 percent in the New Madrid counties. Since 2000, costs have increased by 760 percent

“We are very concerned about the state of earthquake insurance in Missouri,” said Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance. “There is an increasing gap between the insured and uninsured in the highest risk region surrounding the New Madrid fault. The cost of earthquake coverage in that area is prohibitively expensive and some insurers have pulled out altogether. This is a multi-state issue and will require multi-state collaboration to address it.”

Based on a survey of Missouri insurers, nearly 20 percent of the earthquake market in New Madrid does not offer coverage with a deductible less than 25 percent of the value of the insured property.

DCI has been actively working to bring awareness to the issue through education campaigns focused on consumers in the New Madrid fault area. The department, in partnership with other state and federal agencies and members of the insurance industry, is hosting an inaugural event to study and explore this issue and to bring innovative minds together to address this ongoing problem. 

“DCI will be hosting the first Central U.S. Quake Strategy Summit in September and we’ll be joined by members of state and federal government and members of the insurance industry,” said Lindley-Myers. “The theme of the Summit is Closing the Gap, and we’ll be inviting leading innovators and visionaries to start conversations geared toward solving this critical issue. It is imperative that we plan our resiliency and recovery strategies before a major seismic event strikes the New Madrid region.”