Does Home Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

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Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquakes. As a result, you will need to buy earthquake insurance as a separate policy or an endorsement to your homeowners policy to receive coverage for home rebuilding, property repairs and temporary living expense support after an earthquake.

Read below to find out why standard home insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes and how much you may have to pay for a policy that can prevent a major financial loss in case you experience earthquake damage covered by insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • Most homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for earthquakes and other ground movements like sinkholes, landslides and mudflows.
  • Earthquake insurance often includes dwelling, personal property and loss of use coverage and additional policy endorsements may be available depending on your insurer.
  • Common exclusions in earthquake insurance policies include fire, flooding and damage to your vehicle.
  • Your deductible for your earthquake insurance policy may be set at a percentage of your dwelling coverage limit.
  • The average annual cost of earthquake insurance is $800 but you can expect above-average premiums if you live in an earthquake-prone region such as California.

What Types of Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

For the most part, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover earthquake damage, so you’ll need to buy additional earthquake insurance to secure coverage in case your property is damaged by an earthquake or aftershock. Keep in mind that aftershocks that occur more than 72 hours after the initial earthquake may require a separate claim.[1] If you live in California, then your homeowners insurance company is required by state law to formally offer you an earthquake insurance policy once every two years.[2]

How Does Earthquake Insurance Work?

Like home insurance, earthquake insurance requires you to put some of your own money toward all covered claims in the form of a deductible. Rather than being set at a flat amount, your earthquake insurance deductible may be set at a percentage of your coverage limits. For example, if you have $700,000 worth of dwelling coverage and a 10% deductible, then you will have to cover $70,000 worth of damage out of pocket anytime your property is damaged by an earthquake.

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) offers percentage deductibles ranging from 5% to 25% of your coverage limit. However, if you have a raised or non-slab foundation built before 1980 that has not been seismically retrofitted or your home is worth more than $1 million, then the minimum deductible available to you is 15% of your dwelling coverage limit.[2]

In California, you also have the option to select separate deductibles for your dwelling and personal property coverage. If you file a claim after both your home and belongings are damaged by a single earthquake, then only the dwelling insurance deductible will apply.[2]

What Does Earthquake Insurance Cover?

Earthquake insurance generally includes dwelling and personal property insurance to help you pay for property repairs or replacements after a covered seismic event. Dwelling insurance covers the structure of your home and anything directly attached to it, while personal property insurance covers your belongings including clothes, furniture, electronics and appliances.

Your earthquake insurance policy should also include loss of use coverage. This coverage type can help you take care of additional living expenses like hotel stays, apartment rentals, restaurant meals, laundromat costs and more if an earthquake leaves your home temporarily uninhabitable.

In addition, various add-ons may be available to enhance your coverage depending on where you get insurance for earthquake damage. For example, the CEA offers coverage for upgrades to match new building codes and loss assessments for condo unit owners.[2]

What Isn’t Covered?

Earthquake insurance generally won’t cover any source of damage that is already covered by a different type of insurance, even if that source of damage can be linked to an earthquake. See the below table for examples of perils that can stem from earthquakes and what types of insurance you would need to purchase to receive coverage for them.


Covered by


Home insurance


Flood insurance

Earthquake damage to your vehicle

Comprehensive car insurance

Meanwhile, earthquake insurance also may not cover damage to the land your property sits on. For example, your insurer may not help you pay to fill a hole that forms in your backyard due to an earthquake. In addition, most policies don’t cover earthquake damage to sheds, pools, fences and other structures that are detached from your home.[2]

How Much Does Earthquake Insurance Cost?

Throughout the United States, earthquake insurance costs $800 per year on average.[3] However, prices can be much higher in high-risk areas. For example, the average cost of earthquake insurance for single-family homes in California is $1,874 per year, with some residents of Santa Clarita paying as much as $7,390 per year for coverage, according to data analyzed by SmartFinancial.

Is an Earthquake Considered a Named Peril?

Earthquakes are not among the named perils covered by standard home insurance policies. Even policies that insure your property on an open peril basis often explicitly exclude coverage for earthquakes. Similarly, your homeowners policy won’t cover other types of ground movements, so you may need to buy additional insurance products like sinkhole insurance or difference in conditions (DIC) insurance for landslides depending on where you live.[4]

How Do I Get Earthquake Insurance?

Earthquake insurance is often available through traditional home insurance companies either as a standalone policy or an add-on to your homeowners insurance policy. To find the best rates on homeowners coverage, you should compare quotes from multiple insurers using an insurance marketplace like SmartFinancial. Click here to receive home insurance quotes for free today.

You should note that policies from private insurance carriers may be backed by your state government. For example, most earthquake insurance policies in California are provided by the CEA but you must buy coverage from an insurer that is a member of the CEA rather than buying a policy from the CEA directly.[2]

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Why won’t homeowners insurance cover earthquakes?

Insurers largely stopped including coverage for earthquakes in standard homeowners insurance policies in the 1990s when projections showed that many of them could be bankrupted by a single major earthquake.[5]

Do I need insurance if I don’t live in an earthquake-prone area?

You probably don’t need earthquake insurance if your region doesn’t experience many earthquakes unless you want the extra peace of mind and can afford to budget for high premiums. Due to the high deductibles that come with earthquake insurance, most homeowners are unlikely to experience enough property damage to exceed their deductibles in the event of an earthquake.[5]

Does renters insurance cover earthquakes?

You will need to buy separate earthquake insurance as a renter since standard renters insurance policies don’t insure your belongings against earthquake damage.

Do I need earthquake insurance if I live on the East Coast?

There are a few earthquake-prone regions in the eastern United States where residents may want to consider earthquake coverage including eastern Massachusetts, the central Mississippi River Valley, regions surrounding the St. Lawrence River and Charleston, South Carolina.[6]

Can I buy coverage after an earthquake recently happened?

Some insurers may not sell new earthquake policies immediately after an earthquake. Even if you are able to find a policy, your coverage will not retroactively apply to damage that has already happened.[7]

Does home insurance cover earthquakes and other ground movements?

Ground movements like earthquakes, sinkholes and landslides are usually explicitly named as exclusions in open peril home insurance policies.


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 16 to 25 years old.


  1. South Carolina Department of Insurance. “Are You Covered for an Earthquake?” Accessed March 27, 2024.
  2. California Department of Insurance. “Earthquake Insurance.” Accessed March 27, 2024.
  3. Lemonade Insurance. “The Truth About Earthquake Insurance.” Accessed March 27, 2024.
  4. Insurance Information Institute. “Insurance for Landslides and Mudflow.” Accessed March 27, 2024.
  5. Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Earthquake Insurance.” Accessed March 27, 2024.
  6. Michigan Technological University. “Earthquakes in the Midwestern and Eastern United States?!” Accessed March 27, 2024.
  7. Kentucky Department of Insurance. “A Consumer’s Guide to Earthquake Insurance,” Page 3. Accessed March 27, 2024.

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