Is Earthquake Insurance Expensive in California?

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Earthquake insurance in California costs $1,874 on average for a single-family home but the rate you pay can change considerably based on multiple factors like where you live, the age of your home and how well your home was built.

Two-thirds of all earthquakes in the U.S. happen in California. There are 15,700 known faults in the entire state, over 500 of which are active. And yet, most Californians do not have earthquake insurance, assuming that either their homeowners insurance will cover the loss or the government will bail them out. With a 99% chance of a high-impact earthquake hitting California within the next 30 years, isn’t it best to be prepared?[1]

Here’s what you need to know about buying earthquake insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • Californians can expect to pay $1,874 on average for earthquake insurance, although actual rates can vary based on your location, home and other details.
  • Government assistance will not help you rebuild your home after an earthquake; only earthquake insurance will.
  • Earthquake damage is excluded from homeowners insurance but it is possible to buy coverage and your home insurer should be required to offer it.
  • There is a 99% chance that there will be a destructive earthquake in California within the next 30 years.
  • Retrofitting your home may protect it and save you money on earthquake insurance premiums.

How Much Does California Earthquake Insurance Cost?

Based on our sample size, it can cost $1,874 for an earthquake insurance policy with $500,000 in coverage, although rates can vary considerably depending on where you live. For example, a quote for the same coverage can start as low as around $500 in Fremont but can cost over $3,000 in cities like Santa Clarita and San Bernardino. The data even showed a quote as high as $5,000 in Irvine.


Average Annual Premium

San Diego (92105)


San Jose (9511)


San Francisco - Glen Park


Fresno - Sunnyside


Sacramento - Rosemont


Long Beach


Oakland - Piedmont


Bakersfield - Kern City


Stockton (95206)


Santa Ana - Logan Park




Chula Vista




Santa Clarita


San Bernardino


In addition, we found that the age of your home can affect the cost of earthquake insurance considerably. For example, its average cost is $1,874 for a home aged 16 to 25 years but once we filtered for brand new homes, the average cost lowered by 40% at $1,120 per year.

Keep in mind that earthquake insurance for renters is relatively cheaper since you only have to buy coverage for your personal belongings. If your landlord adds earthquake coverage to their insurance policy, then that policy should cover the damages to your unit. Condo earthquake insurance is also relatively less expensive than coverage for most single-dwelling homes.

How Do I Get Earthquake Insurance in California?

Homeowners insurance companies are legally required to offer their customers earthquake insurance, either as an add-on or as a separate policy. Most Californians buy earthquake insurance from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), which is a public tool used by the state to ensure coverage for all who want to protect their homes, condos, mobile homes as well as rented homes for renters who want protection for their belongings. GeoVera and Arrowhead are also popular earthquake insurance carriers in California.

When you buy earthquake insurance, you do it through your personal property insurer, not directly with the earthquake insurer. So, if you have home insurance, talk to your agent. If you’re a renter, you’ll have to buy a renters insurance policy first to qualify for an earthquake policy.

What Is the California Earthquake Authority (CEA)?

The CEA offers earthquake policies for homeowners, condo unit owners and renters. You must have a residential property insurance policy with an insurer that works with the CEA to qualify for a policy. You cannot buy earthquake insurance from the CEA directly.

Find out if your insurer is a CEA member. If not, compare home insurance rates and ask the agent of each carrier if they are members of the California Earthquake Authority before you buy.

Homeowners Choice Policies

CEA homeowners choice policies have separate deductibles for dwelling and personal property coverage. If you have both types of losses after the same earthquake, you do not need to pay both deductibles. The CEA waives the personal property deductible if covered damage to your house exceeds the dwelling deductible.

Why Is Earthquake Insurance So Expensive in California?

Because California is relatively more likely to experience a destructive earthquake, rates are higher, to enable carriers to pay out large numbers of people when disaster strikes without filing bankruptcy. Even a mild earthquake insurance claim may cost tens of thousands, if the tremor affects the foundation of a home. Earthquake damages tend to be expensive.

Just as you would prepare for earthquake safety, it’s important to budget for earthquake-related damage.

What Types of Earthquake Insurance Policies Are There in California?

Similar to a standard homeowners insurance policy, an earthquake policy can contain coverage for your dwelling and personal property.


A house and its structure are covered. This includes the house, an attached garage, the roof and everything else that is a part of the home. This coverage is not included in an earthquake policy for condo owners and renters. Condo owners are, however, able to buy coverage A to protect everything from the walls in, such as floors or carpeting as well as heating and cooling systems.

Personal Property

All your belongings, including clothing, furniture and appliances fall under the category of personal property. You’ll have coverage to replace these things if they are damaged by events caused by an earthquake. Your vehicle(s), however, will not be covered.

Loss of Use

If your home becomes uninhabitable, it’ll cost money to stay elsewhere and you may have other expenses, like having to eat out more than usual. You’ll be covered for some of these expenses with the loss-of-use coverage, also called “additional living expenses” coverage.

What’s Not Covered

The below perils and losses are usually excluded from coverage in an earthquake insurance:

  • Fires that result from an earthquake
  • Floods
  • Damage to vehicles
  • Sinkholes, mudslides
  • Masonry
  • Pre-existing damages
  • Detached structures like gazebos and detached garages

What Factors Are Considered When Calculating Earthquake Insurance in California?

The following factors will determine your earthquake insurance rate in California. You may be able to save money on your earthquake insurance premiums by making certain retrofitting measures to your home to protect it in the event of an earthquake:

  • Age of the home
  • Number of levels
  • Cost to rebuild home
  • Materials needed for rebuilding
  • Deductible amount
  • Coverage limits
  • Soil type and proximity to fault lines
  • Whether home is bolted to foundation
  • Whether water heater is attached to a wall
  • Whether you have emergency gas shut-off valves
  • Whether you have other retrofitting measures for chimneys and masonry walls

How Much Earthquake Insurance Should I Buy in California?

You’ll want to buy as much dwelling coverage as you have homeowners insurance, which is equal to what it would cost you to rebuild your home.

If you’re a renter, you won’t need dwelling coverage. While the same is true for condo owners, they can insure walls in, including floors, with Coverage A. Earthquake insurance will also help to pay any HOA assessment fees, which may be charged based on the extent of damage.[2]

All earthquake insurance policies should have limits high enough to replace or repair damaged personal possessions. There is also usually a limit on how much an insurer will pay for certain items, like electronics or computers. It’s always a good idea to create an inventory, not only to see what your personal property limit should be, but also to keep handy in case you need to file a claim.

For loss-of-use coverage, consider what it will cost you to stay in a convenient hotel or to rent a home for weeks or months, until your home is habitable again.

Talk to a Home Insurance Agent About Earthquake Coverage


What does a standard earthquake insurance policy cover?

Similar to a condo or homeowners policy, earthquake insurance will insure your home and personal belongings against damages caused by an earthquake. With a condo, earthquake insurance can also pay toward reassessment fees if your HOA charges one to fix damages.

Is there earthquake insurance for renters in California?

California renters can buy earthquake insurance to insure their personal belongings against earthquake-related damages.

What is the deductible on an earthquake insurance policy in California?

California earthquake insurance policies typically provide deductibles ranging from 5% to 25% of your coverage limit, with higher deductibles resulting in lower monthly premiums. However, there are limitations, as deductibles above 15% are unavailable for homes valued over $1 million or lacking seismic retrofitting if built before 1980.[2]


The average rates provided above were sourced from quotes provided by insurance companies in 2023 to the California Department of Insurance. The quotes were based on earthquake policies with $500,000 in coverage and a $1,000 deductible for homes that were built 16 to 25 years old. The 15 cities we chose were among the 20 most populous cities according to California Demographics by Cubit.


  1. California Earthquake Authority. “What Is The Earthquake Risk in California?” Accessed Feb. 20, 2024.
  2. California Dept. of Insurance. “Earthquake Insurance.” Accessed Feb. 21, 2024.

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