How Much Does Earthquake Insurance Cost in California?

How Much Does Earthquake Insurance Cost in California?

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Earthquakes are expected to cause $6.1 billion worth of damage annually, according to FEMA, with exposure in California accounting for an estimated 61% of those losses. The best financial protection against this risk is earthquake insurance, and below we detail how much earthquake insurance costs across 255 major cities and 59 counties in the Golden State.

Earthquake Insurance Rates by City in California

Based on where you live, insuring a single-family house can cost from $2.50 to $5.50 per thousand dollars of coverage (or $1,248 to $2,744 annually for $500,000 of coverage). As expected, the closer your house is to a fault line in California, the higher your premiums will be, reflecting the higher probability of earthquake damage and the resulting higher cost to protect your assets. California homeowners will need earthquake insurance if they want to be fully covered as damage from earthquakes is not covered by homeowners insurance.

City
Average coverage rate
Average annual cost for $500,000 of coverage
Adelanto$3.40$1,684
Alameda$5.50$2,744
Alhambra$3.70$1,851
Altadena$4.00$1,979
Alturas$2.60$1,298
Anaheim - Brookhurst Center$3.70$1,852
Anaheim - Federal$3.60$1,812
Antioch$3.60$1,790
Azusa$4.10$2,071
Bakersfield - Kern City$3.00$1,519
Bakersfield - Panama$3.20$1,600
Baldwin Park$4.10$2,072
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Rates are per thousand dollars of coverage

Los Angeles

Residents in the LA neighborhoods of Echo Park, Silver Lake and El Sereno tended to see cheaper premiums for earthquake coverage. Mar Vista, Culver City and West LA would typically have to pay higher premiums for the same coverage. In general, the average cost was $3.70 per thousand dollars of coverage (that's $2,960 per year for a house dwelling coverage of $800,000, ranging as low as $3.50 and as a high as $4 per thousand). With the San Andreas tectonic zone and hundreds of smaller active faults, the county is estimated to have a 75% chance of an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0+ in the next three decades.

San Diego

The cost of protection against earthquakes ranges from $2.90 to $3.10 per thousand dollars of coverage in San Diego. For $575,000 of coverage (the median home price in San Diego), the annual premium is estimated to be $1,725. Home to over 1.4 million residents, the Rose Canyon, Elsinore and San Jacinto fault lines, the city also has a 75% chance of a magnitude 7.0+ earthquake in the next 30 years according the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). Although Los Angeles has a similar probability of a major earthquake event, earthquake insurance rates are much lower than in San Diego.

San Francisco

Insuring a single-family house in San Francisco against earthquakes could cost anywhere from $4 to $4.40 per thousand dollars of coverage. The Mission area ranks on the cheaper end, while Nob Hill residents tend to see rates on the higher end of the range. Assuming coverage for a median single-family home priced at $1.6 million, rates could go over $6,000 a year. With the San Andreas and the Hayward faults running through the greater Bay Area, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates there's a 98% likelihood that the next 30 years will have an earthquake of 6.0+ magnitude.

Earthquake Insurance Premiums by County in California

If your city isn't listed in the table above, here are the averages by county from our data source. Counties like Calaveras, Tehama, Butte, Madera and Placer ranked on the lower end, with an average cost of $2.50 per $1,000 of coverage. Imperial County ranked as having the highest average cost, at $5 per $1,000 of coverage. Alameda and Santa Clara counties had the second and third highest premiums.

County
Average coverage rate
Average annual cost for $500,000 coverage
Alameda$4.60$2,311
Alpine$2.80$1,389
Amador$2.50$1,275
Butte$2.50$1,248
Calaveras$2.50$1,248
Colusa$2.60$1,286
Contra Costa$4.30$2,127
Del Norte$2.90$1,467
El Dorado$2.60$1,278
Fresno$2.50$1,254
Glenn$2.60$1,278
Humboldt$3.90$1,952
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Rates are per thousand dollars of coverage

How Much Does Earthquake Insurance Cost Vary by Insurer?

The average by earthquake insurer ranged from $0.60 to $15 per thousand dollars of coverage for a single family house in California. Estimated annual premiums would range from $300 to over $7,000 for coverage limits of $500,000, illustrating the importance of comparing quotes. The graph below ranks companies based on their coverage cost per thousand dollars, starting with the most affordable. The quote you receive will vary based on the characteristics of your house, including its foundation, number of stories and year built. This graph also does not include carriers like Allstate, State Farm or USAA, which refer to the California Earthquake Authority to calculate rates.

Earthquake Insurance Rates

The companies with the three lowest earthquake insurance rates were Privilege Underwriters Exchange, Cincinnati Insurance Co. and Chubb/Federal, with average rates ranging from $0.60 to $1 for each $1,000 of coverage you need. On the other hand, the three companies charging the highest rates were Aegis Security, American Modern and Pacific Specialty. These insurers quoted rates that were seven to 15 times higher than the cheapest competitors. For these pricier carriers, rates were fairly consistent and were not greatly affected by whether a homeowner lived in a low-risk or a high-risk area for tremors.

Methodology

We analyzed sample earthquake premiums submitted by insurance companies to the California Department of Insurance to develop the tables and graphs above. 52 companies were surveyed, and actual rate samples were submitted by 33 carriers. Twenty-one carriers were excluded because they did not provide actual rates and referenced the California Earthquake Authority for rates calculations or were closely affiliated companies with the same rates. This resulted in the list of 31 carriers highlighted in our graph above.

All rates are listed per thousand dollars of coverage for illustrative purposes. Take the amount of coverage you need, divide it by a thousand and multiply it by the estimated rate for a rate approximation. For example, if you need $800,000 of coverage, that will be: $800,000 / $1,000 for $800, multiplied by the study average coverage rate of $3.50 for an estimated proxy of $2,800 in annual premiums. The actual quote and premium you'll ultimately pay will differ and depend on where your house is located and what kind of house it is.

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