Ready for an Earthquake?

Earthquakes happen suddenly and without warning. Injury related to falling debris and property damage often accompanies serious seismic events. Consider the following tips to keep loved ones safe and limit damage to your home.

  • Teach household members to take shelter inside your home or nearby building until the shaking stops. Find a spot away from windows, doors, light fixtures, and unsecured furniture.
  • Practice dropping to the ground, taking cover under a sturdy table or desk, and covering your head and neck. Stay put until the shaking stops.
  • Now is the time to brace the water heater to the wall. A toppled water heater may sever and break gas and water lines.
  • Securely fasten heavy furnishings (chandeliers, mirrors, etc.) to walls.
  • Verify that your home is properly anchored to its foundation.
  • Check for injuries after an event and request medical help if necessary. Next, carefully examine your dwelling for damage. Check the foundation and chimney bricks. Turn off compromised gas, water, and electrical systems.

Assess the probability of earthquake damage to your home. How close do you live to a fault line? Consider the structural elements of your home that make it vulnerable to earthquake-related damage. Damageability is linked to the year and type of construction, foundation materials, and the number of stories. Your home may need significant repair after a major earthquake. Decide if your financial situation can withstand this hardship.

Homeowners, renters, and condominium owners often turn to an insurance company when unforeseen damage occurs. However, there is no coverage for loss caused by earthquakes. Policies specifically exclude this type of loss.

Many insurers offer earthquake protection as a buy-back endorsement. Contact your local property insurance agent for details. Pricing is based on factors like the amount of insurance, building construction materials, location, and deductible. Earthquake insurance is catastrophic coverage, which means the policyholder pays a large deductible (often 2% to 20% of the dwelling's replacement cost). Review the endorsement and ask questions about what to expect after a loss.

  • Does protection apply to the dwelling only, or are detached buildings covered too?
  • Are personal belongings included?
  • Will additional living expenses be covered if you must temporarily relocate?
  • Are there any exclusions?

Finally, consider participating in the 2023 Great Central U.S. Shake Out on October 17. Several state and federal agencies and organizations are partnering to promote earthquake preparedness on this day. Go to to learn more about the event or register to participate.