OK Earthquakes Up, Experts Suggest Insurance

LAWTON Okla_ Oklahoma's known as Tornado Alley, but the way the ground has been shaking lately, it might need to change to Earthquake Alley.

According to the US Geological Survey, since 2009, central Oklahoma has experienced more than 200 earthquakes that registered at magnitude 3.0 or greater. There have been 40 milder quakes in just the past seven days. You may have not given much thought to it before, but earthquake insurance might be a necessity.

A new USGS report predicts that this seismic activity will probably continue throughout central Oklahoma. Currently, less than one percent of Oklahomans have earthquake coverage.

"We'll have our earthquake, a little rattle come through," Insurance Agent Michael Towe said. "We'll have one or two clients call and ask some questions. Maybe we'll write a policy here and there. It's not very prevalent at all."

Towe said since your home is usually your largest asset, it's important for you to decide how you want to protect it.

"Earthquake is not covered on your traditional homeowner's policy," Towe said. "It can be added on for an additional fee, or you can purchase a completely separate plan."

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak issued this statement encouraging Oklahomans to get earthquake coverage:

"Looking into earthquake insurance after your home or business has sustained damage resulting from an earthquake will do little good to help you recover. Now is the time to protect yourselves before the next one occurs."

Two years ago, a record-breaking 5.6 magnitude earthquake destroyed and damaged many homes in Oklahoma. Still, very few Oklahomans have the coverage they need.

"Reporting methods for earthquakes are continuing to get better as technology improves," Towe said. "We need to be prepared for any hazard that we face here in Oklahoma."

Towe said earthquake insurance is actually very affordable. An average Oklahoma homeowner could expect to pay around $100-$150 per year for coverage.

"On an earthquake policy the deductibles tend to be very high," Towe said. "They're based on a percentage of your home's value; anywhere from five to 20 percent."

Towe said you really have to sit down and think. For a $100,000 house, that deductible could range from $5,000 to $20,000. So if an earthquake hits, what is the chance that my damages are going to be higher than the deductible amount?

The US Geological Survey is attributing this latest spike of earthquakes to waste fluid disposal wells used in the oil and gas industry.