My husband and I live in California. Should we buy earthquake insurance?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Earthquake insurance, even in California, is a personal choice. Lenders do not require it so it is you and your husband’s decision. There are many factors to consider such as costs, probability of an earthquake in your area and your feelings about earthquakes. Many people who are new to California, and some longtime residents, fear earthquakes and decide to buy the insurance based upon the fear. You should also educate yourself as to what the homeowner policy covers versus the earthquake policy. For example, a fire, even if caused by an earthquake, is covered by the homeowner policy. Much of the damage from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, and the later one in 1981, was caused by fire.

Earthquake insurance is generally expensive and has high deductibles. There is a state run program called California Earthquake Authority (CEA) as well as programs within individual insurance companies. Some companies subscribe to the CEA. If so, they do not offer any other options. There are also some companies that write only earthquake insurance, not connected to the homeowner insurance and they allow you to select different amounts of insurance. Some offer protection for your contents and the costs you will incur while your home is being repaired (known as additional living expenses). Shop around to find the best program to fit your needs.

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