Many homeowners and businesses are under the impression that their insurance will cover damage from an earthquake. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Many insurance policies specifically exclude damage from earthquakes and floods. This leaves individuals or businesses paying out of pocket for damage caused by an earthquake. Even a small tremor can cause a cracked foundation, structural damage or destruction of property.
You may be able to add Earthquake Coverage to your property insurance policy. This coverage may have a high deductible, but repairs, like fixing a cracked foundation, can be incredibly expensive.
Vehicles may be covered for earthquake damage if you have comprehensive coverage.
What about Virginia?
· Virginia has its own seismic zone, ranging 8,000 miles in the Piedmont province.
· Since 1950, there have been eight earthquakes in Virginia, but the majority have occurred within the past ten years.
· In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia, along with aftershocks up to 4.5 in magnitude.
· Locate a safe place in every room where you can go when an earthquake occurs. Choose a place away from windows where nothing can fall on you, preferably under a sturdy table or desk, or under an interior doorway.
· Help quake-proof your home by bolting tall furniture and the water heater to wall studs. Attach mirrors, pictures and other objects securely to the wall. Do not hang glass-framed pictures behind your bed.
· Make sure your house is bolted to the foundation. If you live in a mobile home, make sure it is securely anchored down. Check with your local building inspector to determine if walls need additional bracing.
· If a severe earthquake does occur, you may be asked to evacuate. Have your disaster supplies kit packed and ready to go.
Earthquake Safety Tips
It’s important to protect yourself before an earthquake strikes. Here are a few tips from Ready.gov and National Geographic to keeping yourself and your family safe when an earthquake occurs:
· Duck and cover: When you first feel the shaking, get under a table or desk on your knees, with your arms covering the back of your neck. If there is no table around, prop yourself in a doorway.
· Remain indoors: Never go outside during an earthquake.
· Have first aid available: Always have first aid kits and fire extinguishers stocked and ready in your home.
· Don’t move: Once you find a safe spot, don’t move from it until after the earthquake has passed. When the shaking has stopped, survey your surroundings before moving. Take note of anything that may fall.
· Protect your lungs: If items or parts of the home have fallen, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or the sleeve of your shirt.
· Don’t light a fire: Don’t use matches or lighters inside after an earthquake. One of the most reported emergencies after an earthquake is fire. If you smell gas or methane, leave the area immediately.