Do Renters in Washington State Need Earthquake Insurance?

Renters Insurance
October 10, 2021
toy house in broken pavement to represent earthquake

To explore this topic—whether or not you should be shopping for earthquake insurance if you rent your housing in the Evergreen State—start with these two simple but critical facts:

  • First, the state of Washington does have significant earthquake activity.
  • Your existing renter’s insurance policy almost surely doesn’t cover earthquake damage.

Take a look at what you should know about earthquake insurance and whether or not it belongs on your shopping list. Let’s start with a closer look at each of those two quick facts we mentioned.

The State of Washington Experiences Frequent Earthquake Activity

If you’re a long-time resident of the state, you might be shocked to know that Washington experiences nearly a tremor a day. The reason you’re likely to be surprised by that number is that most of the quakes in this state are too small to be felt by most residents or to cause even minimal damage. Nevertheless, the state sits over various fault lines, which is why the activity is constant.

It’s not just a vast number of silent tremors, either. Washington has the second-highest number of damaging earthquakes in the United States. The most recent severe activity was the Nisqually quake, which struck on February 28, 2001. Centered 11 miles north of Olympia and measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, it caused billions of dollars in damage to roads, bridges, and buildings throughout most western Washington and beyond. Other significant quakes in the state occurred in the 1990s and just about every decade before then.

The point being, earthquakes do occur in Washington regularly. While most cost no real damage, it’s not unheard of for more serious tremors to damage state infrastructure, buildings, and personal property.

Does Renters Insurance Policy Cover Earthquake Damage?

The owner of your Washington State apartment building, home, or other rented property is responsible for walls, roof, furnace, electrical and plumbing systems, and other components of the structure itself.

But your landlord isn’t responsible for the personal property you keep in that space, and that’s why you have renters insurance.

You’re pretty well protected if you have a quality plan. Your standard renter’s policy probably covers damage, loss, or destruction of the personal belongings in your apartment or other rented housing from fire and smoke, lightning strikes, high winds, hail storms, theft, and vandalism.

However, one of the few events that are probably not in your policy is earthquake damage. That event is almost always treated as what’s called an “exclusion,” or uncovered activity. Check your policy to be sure, but this natural phenomenon is almost surely not covered.

Low Cost, High-Value Coverage

Since parts of the state of Washington rest on fault lines, and earthquakes are relatively common, insurance might cost more than it would in many other parts of the country, but it’s still highly affordable.

You can purchase this coverage as an add-on to a standard renters insurance policy. This is known as an endorsement. Earthquake insurance can also be bought as a separate policy.

Such coverage would not only reimburse you for items damaged or destroyed in a quake but also for such associated costs as debris removal and the expense of temporarily moving to a motel or other housing. At the same time, your rented space is being made habitable again.

Is This Coverage Worth It?

young woman is using a mobile phone to find earthquake insurance

Keep in mind that the cost of a few dollars a month protects you from what could be thousands of dollars you’d have to spend to replace your personal property in the event of a damaging earthquake. This might include furniture and furnishings, computers and other electronic devices, and other expensive possessions.

In addition, you could have the added cost of moving your family into a hotel or other pricey lodging for several weeks or even months while your apartment, house, condo, or other rented space is being repaired.

Your earthquake insurance policy or endorsement might also cover other so-called “earth movement” events such as sinkholes and landslides.

For what might be $200 a year or less, this coverage protects your finances and might well be worth it simply for the peace of mind the insurance offers.

How to Find Earthquake Insurance

We don’t know when the next big earthquake will hit the state of Washington, but we do know it will occur at some point that’s probably not too far in the future. Will you and your family be financially protected?

Is renters insurance with an earthquake endorsement right for you? Let’s work together to figure that out. Your Vern Fonk Insurance agent can answer all of your questions and find you the ideal policy.

Get yourself a quick online quote for renters insurance, or call us today to discuss whether it would be a sensible decision to buy or add on earthquake coverage.

Vern Fonk Insurance aims to keep our customers on stable ground financially and help maintain their peace of mind. We look forward to working with you and protecting your loved ones.