Earthquake Insurance: Is it Worth Considering?

Earthquakes are not a common occurrence in Ontario. With a fairly major fault line in Eastern Ontario, unfortunately, to insurance companies and homeowners, an earthquake is not outside of the realm of possibility.

Standard home insurance does not cover damage directly resulting from earthquakes. The only way you would have coverage due to an earthquake is if there was a fire or explosion that resulted due to the earthquake. Otherwise, if you sustain damage from the earthquake there would be no coverage.

Earthquakes near North Bay

Earthquakes occur most frequently in Ontario in the Ottawa area, but North Bay lies along the same fault line as Ottawa does. In 2000, a relatively large earthquake for the area had an epicenter just 70 miles north of North Bay in Lake Kipawa. So theoretically, it could happen – it just hasn’t happened yet on a significant scale.

How climate change increases earthquakes

We mostly associate climate change with weather from above, not quakes from below. But they are related. According to a leading climate change scientist, Bill McGuire, recent increased earthquake events in Alaska could be the “canary in the coal mine” that signals a future increase in global earthquake events.

Who should buy earthquake insurance

If you can spare between $250-$300 a year for a premium on a home of an average value, and want the general peace of mind earthquake coverage provides, you may want to talk to your broker about it. The replacement cost of the home can be significant if a major earthquake event occurs, and if a less serious event occurs, you may need to jack up the home to repair the foundation, which is a significant expense.

Minor earthquakes in the Ottawa area have been known to rattle homes, but not to the extent that they cause damage to more than contents. If you have fragile valuables, such as expensive china or collectibles that could be damaged in a minor shake of your home, you may also want to consider earthquake insurance. It’s important to note that regular home insurance does not cover even this damage should it occur – you’ll need to add a rider to your insurance for earthquakes to be covered.

How earthquake insurance works

To an insurance company, earthquake insurance includes damage from earthquakes, landslides, and other earth movements. It is also important to keep in mind that earthquake insurance would carry a higher deductible than the standard policy deductible on your comprehensive homeowner’s insurance. Where you typically have a  $1,000 deductible on your comprehensive policy, you would likely pay a $10,000 deductible  in the event of a claim as the result of an earthquake.  

Insurance is all about peace of mind. Homeowners purchasing additional coverage for earthquakes in Ontario is rare, but earthquakes may be more of a common occurrence in our province in the future – so it’s worth thinking about to protect what you love.