Number of Missouri Homes Insured for Earthquakes Declined from 2008 to 2017

February 7, 2019

Despite the fact that earthquakes present a significant hazard to Missourians, the number of homes insured against damage from earthquakes declined between 2008 and 2017, according to a Residential Earthquake Coverage Report released by the Missouri Department of Insurance.

The department noted in a media release that earthquake occurrences in southeast Missouri are not rare. Missouri experiences small earthquakes regularly and there have been four earthquakes measuring a magnitude of 4.5 or greater in the New Madrid Seismic zone since 1976, the department said.

The department said that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is a 25 percent to 40 percent chance that an earthquake with a 6 or higher magnitude will impact the New Madrid Zone within the next 50 years.

“Many homeowners may assume their existing policy covers them in the event of an earthquake. That is simply wrong,” Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, said in the release. “Coverage for earthquakes must be purchased separately, usually through an earthquake endorsement that is added to your insurance policy.”

In the six-county New Madrid region of the state, residences with earthquake coverage declined by an astonishing 37 percent, from just half to 17.1 percent since 2008. Over 60 percent of the dwellings in New Madrid had earthquake coverage in 2000.

In 77 Missouri counties, fewer than 20 percent of residences have earthquake coverage. In only seven counties are at least half of the residences insured from damage caused by earthquakes.

The report also shows that the cost of earthquake coverage has increased significantly, particularly in the high-risk New Madrid area. In just the last 10 years, costs have increased by 132 percent in New Madrid counties. Since 2000, costs have increased by 611 percent.

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