EARTHQUAKE AND FLOOD

Are natural disasters rare or common enough to buy insurance? We have seen the recent natural disasters in the United States and abroad, can cause a very large impact on our finances. If you were to fall victim to a natural disaster, could you pay for the damages out-of-pocket? Will your homeowners insurance provide adequate coverage? Could any of us depend on the government for assistance?

Standard homeowners insurance generally does not cover damage directly caused by either floods or earthquakes. Federal disaster assistance is usually in the form of loans or grants and is only available if the damage is widespread and very serious, and the affected area is declared a disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

If you’re deciding whether to buy flood or earthquake insurance (or both), consider the following questions:

  • Do you live in a high-risk area?
  • Have you assessed the potential cost of repairs?
  • Do you have sufficient resources to repair, replace, or rebuild?
  • Can you minimize potential losses by fortifying your property and securing your personal belongings?

EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE

After Alaska and California, Nevada ranks third in the country for major earthquakes – those of magnitude 5.0 or higher. These earthquakes can cause a great deal of damage that won’t be covered under your homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy.

You can protect yourself from substantial financial burdens in rebuilding or repairing your home by purchasing earthquake insurance. The Division of Insurance publication, the Nevada Consumer’s Guide to Earthquake Insurance, contains valuable information about the availability and affordability of earthquake insurance. This consumer guide explains what is and is not typically covered under an earthquake insurance policy. The consumer guide also contains tips on safety as well as what to do before and after an earthquake.

Consumers are urged to contact their homeowner’s insurance agent or insurance company to inquire about earthquake insurance. Policies vary, so consumers should ask their insurance agent or insurance company to fully explain the earthquake insurance policy’s coverage and exclusions.

FLOOD INSURANCE

Poor awareness and the risk of inaccurate flood modeling present obvious challenges. Home and business owners may choose to underinsure or go uninsured due to misinformation.

While Nevada may have a dry climate, that doesn’t mean that it’s not susceptible to flooding. In Nevada, the most common causes of flooding are heavy rains, flash floods, new land development that can change natural drainage and the spring thaw of winter snow. Also susceptible to erosion, mudslides and flooding are areas where recent fires may have destroyed much of the vegetation or the land. Other causes – such as the 2008levee breach of the Truckee Canal in Fernley – also can lead to unexpected and rapid flooding.

Standard homeowners and renters insurance do not cover damage to your home or personal property from floods. Even if a flooded area is declared a federal disaster area, federal aid is usually provided in the form of low-interest loans.

Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy. Most insurance companies that offer homeowners, renters, condo owners, and business owners insurance in Nevada also offer NFIP backed flood insurance policies. Policies are available to cover residential and commercial structures and property.

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