Central Oklahoma homeowners whose houses shook from recent earthquakes may be surprised to learn they'll have to wait a month or two if they want to buy earthquake insurance.
A 30- to 60-day lockout period, due to the likelihood of aftershocks in the area, is just one of many details Oklahoma residents should be aware of when shopping for earthquake insurance. Higher deductibles also might give some pause.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak put out an alert last month advising homeowners to look into earthquake insurance. Doak's advice came after the U.S. Geological Survey noted a sharp increase in the number of earthquakes — mostly small — across parts of the state.
For a state used to the damage from tornadoes, hail and other severe weather, earthquake coverage hasn't been at the forefront for most Oklahoma homeowners, Doak said.
“We just want consumers to be educated and able to make that financial decision if they desire,” Doak said. “I'm not saying rush out and buy coverage, but educate yourself.”
Doak said earthquake policies in Oklahoma can cost between $100 and $150 per year, depending on the insurance company and the homeowner's level of coverage.
Less than 1 percent of Oklahoma homeowners carry earthquake insurance, which has to be bought separately from a regular homeowners' policy. Earthquake insurance is either an endorsement added to existing coverage or a separate policy from another insurance company.
Even in California, home to about 37,000 quakes each year, just 10 percent of homeowners carried earthquake insurance last year, according to the California Department of Insurance.
Doak said Oklahoma earthquake coverage is structured similarly to those in other states in that it has higher deductibles than typical homeowners' insurance. Earthquake coverage usually has a deductible at 5 percent or 10 percent of the home's value. At 10 percent, out-of-pocket costs to repair earthquake damage would be $12,000 for a $120,000 house, the median home value in Oklahoma County.