While Illinois residents experience about one earthquake every year, most are inconsequential and cause no damage. Earthquakes that cause minor damage occur about once every 20 years in this state while those that cause major damage are less frequent at about once every 80 years. An earthquake does have the potential to cause expensive damage to your home. Fortunately, you can protect yourself with earthquake insurance.
- April 18, 2008 - magnitude 5.4
- January 2, 2006 - magnitude 3.6
- June 28, 2004 - magnitude 4.2
- June 10, 1987 - magnitude 5.1
Chances are strong that if Illinois residents experience an earthquake it will be one that has a magnitude of less than 7.0 and damages will not be severe. However, even a lower magnitude earthquake has the potential to affect the foundation and this can lead to expensive structural problems such as cracked walls and water leaks.
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What Is Earthquake Insurance?
Many homeowners insurance policies have exclusions for damages caused by earthquakes. You could find yourself responsible for excessive out-of-pocket costs if your home is seriously damaged by an earthquake. If you own an older home, you are at higher risk for major damage than a newer home may be. For this reason, you may want to consider purchasing an earthquake insurance endorsement, or rider, to accompany your policy.
Why Are Illinois Residents at Risk?
The New Madrid Fault line is a 150-mile fault system that extends southward from Cairo, Illinois. It passes through five states and was responsible for four major earthquakes, registering about 8.0 in magnitude, in 1811 and 1812. FEMA issued a report stating that the New Madrid Fault line could lead to a major earthquake within the central United States and warning that such a quake would be widespread, catastrophic and could lead to extremely extensive damage to property and infrastructure.
Safety Tips During an Earthquake
- If you are indoors, do not go outside. Drop to the ground and take cover under a heavy piece of furniture.
- Do not leave the building until the shaking has completely stopped.
- Do not use elevators.
- Stay away from windows, outside doors, and any furniture or light fixtures that can come loose or fall.
- If you are outdoors, move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires until the shaking has completely stopped.
- If in a vehicle, pull over and stop in a location that is not under trees, buildings, overpasses or utility wires.
- After the quake, avoid driving on bridges, ramps or roadways that may have been damaged or destabilized during the quake.
Is Illinois Earthquake Insurance Expensive?
The cost of your policy will depend on a few factors including the value of your home and the materials used to build it. Homes made of wood, for example, are better able to withstand the tremors of an earthquake than are homes made of brick. For the most part, you can expect an earthquake insurance policy to cost you about $10 a month. This is a small price to pay to secure the investment you have made in your home.
Be aware that most earthquake insurance policies offer a lot of coverage, but with a high deductible. Therefore, they will not provide compensation for minor damage. These policies are designed mostly to protect homeowners from catastrophic destruction to their homes following an earthquake.
Learn More about Earthquake Insurance
When an earthquake strikes, you might be caught unprepared for shaking structures and rumbling ground, but you can be ready for the damage with insurance coverage. It's a good idea to research your options, and understand where your home is located in relation to fault lines. The Illinois State Geological Survey has a lot of great online data that you can search to tell you more about the risks in your area. For your insurance needs, make sure you talk with neighbors about coverage and speak with an insurance agent about the options that are out there within your budget. Online research, checking consumer reviews, and looking up rating agencies can help you determine if the insurer you choose is reputable.