(Bloomberg News) Homeowners won't be covered by standard property insurance policies if there's any damage following today's 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered near Richmond, Virginia.
Earthquake protection is generally excluded from standard homeowners' insurance policies, and consumers have to purchase coverage either as a separate policy or an endorsement to an existing policy, said Michael Barry, a spokesman at the Insurance Information Institute in New York.
Most people who buy coverage live in quake-prone states, such as California, Washington and Missouri, according to Janece White, a vice president at Warren, New Jersey-based Chubb Corp., the insurer of commercial property and high-end homes.
"It's very infrequent," that residents who live on the East Coast purchase earthquake coverage since during their lifetimes there's never been a temblor that warranted it, White said.
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck at 1:51 p.m. local time about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Virginia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Buildings in New York City and Washington shook after the quake and it was also felt in areas including Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey and Toronto.
Consumers who have so-called floaters to insure valuables such as fine art or all risk contents policies generally will be reimbursed for quake damage to such possessions, White said. If homeowners want their houses protected, they must buy separate policies, she said.
Policy Cost Varies
The cost of earthquake policies varies based on the location and the value of the home. Deductibles for earthquake policies vary by state and range from 5 percent to 25 percent of the overall value of the property, White said.
A policy from Chubb for earthquake insurance in New York is 50 cents per $1,000 of homeowners coverage, or about $250 a year on a home valued at $500,000.
"A lot of people do purchase event protection after an event occurs because they realize, 'Hey, that could happen to me,'" said Dick Luedke, a spokesman for Bloomington, Illinois- based State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.