Oklahoma earthquakes on the rise; earthquake insurance isn't

By: Helen Headlee Email
By: Helen Headlee Email

Homeowners living in quiet neighborhoods never expect the tremors of an earthquake to destroy their homes. But from January 2011 to now, 261 earthquakes have rocked Oklahoma. With numbers like that, Insurance Commissioner John Doak wants his state to get prepared with earthquake insurance.

"Oklahomans need to be aware that this is a potential risk for them which could be a significant financial loss," said Doak.

Homeowners can buy earthquake insurance as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Premiums range from about $100 dollars to $300 dollars a year. Deductibles are calculated as a percentage of the property value--often between 5 and 10 percent.

So if you own a home for 100 thousand dollars and you have the low end of the deductible at 5 percent, you'd be responsible for the first $5,000 worth of earthquake damages.

Hydraulic fracturing has received some blame for the increased number of earthquakes, but John Laws -- a seismologist and geologist who consults for oil and gas companies-- said the fracturing isn't the answer.

"Here in Oklahoma, even though we've had this increase in seismic activity there's not been an increase in fracturing," said Laws.

Whatever the cause, lacking insurance can crack your wallet if a quake comes.

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