American Property Casualty Insurance Association
  • Staff Contact: Sarah Revell     
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  • February 5, 2020
  • February 7 Marks Anniversary of Last Major Earthquake to Strike Central U.S.
  • APCIA Highlights the Importance of Taking Precautions

    CHICAGO — On February 7, 1812, the largest earthquake of the 1811-1812 New Madrid sequence impacted parts of Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Illinois at a whopping magnitude 7.7, causing widespread damage and destruction. If a similar event were to occur today, the risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide has estimated that it could produce insured losses in excess of $59 billion (2017 dollars).

    “Earthquakes can strike with little to no warning and it is essential to prepare not only your home but your finances as well,” said Don Griffin, vice president, policy, research and international for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. “Many people do not realize that earthquake damage is not covered under a standard homeowners policy and must be purchased as a separate policy.”

    The United States Geological Survey estimates there is a 25 to 40 percent chance of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake and about a 7 to 10 percent chance of a repeat of the 1811-1812 earthquakes over the next 50 years in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

    During Central U.S. Earthquake Awareness Month in February, citizens and communities across the central U.S. are reminded of their risk and encouraged to take steps to be prepared in the event an earthquake strikes, which includes considering your need for earthquake insurance coverage.

    “Even in the most earthquake prone states relatively few people have earthquake coverage, which creates a major gap in insurance coverage for many homeowners and businesses and leaves people vulnerable to financial disaster,” continued Griffin. “Consumers should talk to their insurance agent or company to understand their risk and determine whether or not earthquake coverage makes sense for them.”

    According to the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, earthquakes occur on a daily basis in the central U.S. with nearly 2,000 small tremors per year. Additionally, studies conducted over the last 20 years have shown that sequences of earthquakes comparable in size to the 1811-1812 earthquakes have occurred at least twice before.

    Consumers can take steps to protect their family and property before an earthquake strikes, including:

    • Talk to your insurance agent or company about purchasing a separate policy or an endorsement to ensure you are covered in the event of earthquake damage

    • Take the time to make a home inventory and document your belongings

    • Strengthen your property and mitigate against potential damage, such as by securing movable items and protecting against gas fires or explosions

    • Hold regular drills with loved ones and practice “Drop, Cover and Hold On”

    • Have a disaster plan

    For more tips and information, please visit APCIA’s Earthquake Headquarters.

  • The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) is the primary national trade association for home, auto, and business insurers. APCIA promotes and protects the viability of private competition for the benefit of consumers and insurers, with a legacy dating back 150 years. APCIA members represent all sizes, structures, and regions—protecting families, communities, and businesses in the U.S. and across the globe.
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