Flood No, Quake Yes

July 10, 2008
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LANSING — The devastating and costly flooding in Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin has the nation’s attention and has all but wiped out the memory of the 5.2-magnitude earthquake that shook southern Illinois in April.

That quake was the strongest to hit the region in 40 years, and its tremors were reportedly felt more than 900 miles away in Florida. Mount Carmel, Ill., was near the epicenter of the early morning quake, and that city is roughly 400 miles from Grand Rapids.

Even though flood insurance isn’t available to the vast majority of property owners, the Insurance Institute of Michigan reports that coverage for earthquake damage generally is — but only as an add-on to a policy.

“Although earthquakes occur most frequently west of the Rockies, some do hit the Midwest. Since 1900, earthquakes have occurred in 39 states and caused damage in all 50 states,” said Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the insurance institute, in a release.

Kuhnmuench said a quake endorsement provides protection from the cracks and shaking an earthquake can cause, damaging buildings and personal possessions. The coverage has a deductible, but most often it’s in the form of a percentage instead of a dollar amount.

Coverage for other types of damage that come from an earthquake, such as fire and water damage due to pipes bursting, is provided under the standard business and home policies. Damage to vehicles is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto policy.

The Insurance Institute of Michigan, which represents a majority of the property and casualty insurers in the state, said premiums for quake coverage vary depending on the type of building. It costs less to insure frame structures than masonry buildings because a frame structure has more “give” and is better able to withstand tremors.

The institute advises property owners to contact their insurance company to determine what coverage options are available and the rates for a quake endorsement.

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