Renters Insurance

Does Renters Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

Does Renters Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

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Typical renters insurance policies don't pay to repair damage from an earthquake. Renters who live in earthquake-prone areas should purchasing a policy in order to protect their belongings from earthquake damage.

Do I need earthquake insurance as a renter?

You're generally not required to buy earthquake insurance as a renter. However, purchasing earthquake insurance may be a good idea, based on the likelihood of an earthquake where you live.

Earthquakes and other kinds of damage related to "earth movement" are almost never covered by a regular renters insurance policy. Buying an earthquake endorsement, or a separate earthquake insurance policy, is the only way to protect yourself from the financial costs of a quake.

Whether you want to buy earthquake insurance is a personal decision, but you should ask yourself the following questions when making your choice:

  • How close am I to a known fault line?
  • Have I ever felt an earthquake in my home?
  • Could I afford to replace my belongings if they were destroyed in an earthquake?
  • Is there somewhere I could stay if my home were uninhabitable due to an earthquake?

What does renters earthquake insurance cover?

Earthquake insurance for renters provides similar types of coverage as regular renters insurance — the only difference is that it only covers damage caused by, or related to, an earthquake.

Perils covered by earthquake insurance

  • Earthquakes
  • Sinkholes
  • Liquefaction (when soil temporarily acts like a liquid)
  • Land, mud or rock slides (as long as they are caused by an earthquake)
  • Other earth movement

Just like regular renters insurance, an earthquake insurance policy for renters will offer a range of coverage options that will vary by insurer.

Common earthquake insurance coverage options for renters

  • Personal property coverage: pays to repair or replace your personal property if it's damaged in an earthquake, including furniture, appliances, clothing and electronics.
  • Breakables coverage: pays to repair or replace fragile items like glassware, pottery or porcelain, which are often excluded from earthquake coverage.
  • Loss of use coverage: pays for alternative lodging, like a hotel or temporary apartment, if your home is uninhabitable after an earthquake.
  • Debris removal: pays for the cost of removing debris from your home or property.

Deductibles work differently for earthquake insurance compared to most renters insurance policies. For earthquake insurance, your deductible is a percent of your total claim, like 10% or 20%, whereas for a typical renters insurance policy, the deductible is a fixed amount, such as $100. And the lower you set your deductible, the more expensive your earthquake insurance will be.

What earthquake insurance for renters doesn't cover

Earthquake insurance for renters doesn't cover everything. Most importantly, the structure of your apartment or house won't be covered by your earthquake policy. Your landlord is responsible for the cost of repairing your home after an earthquake, not you. This is good news, though: It's why earthquake insurance for renters is much less expensive than for homeowners.

If you live near the coast, know that flooding is usually not covered by earthquake insurance — even if the flood is caused by an earthquake.

Damage to your car is generally not covered by earthquake insurance. Your car's comprehensive coverage, if you have it, will pay for that. And anything unrelated to earth movement isn't covered, either.

Not covered by renters earthquake insurance

  • Structure of your home
  • Your car
  • Damage from flooding (even if caused by an earthquake)
  • Damage from anything not related to earth movement

How do I get earthquake insurance for my apartment?

Earthquake insurance is sold two ways: as an add-on to your existing renters insurance policy and as a separate policy. Combining the two may be more convenient, since the bill will be combined with your existing renters insurance, and you might get a discount for buying both from the same company.

On the other hand, it's possible that a stand-alone earthquake insurance policy may have coverage options that suit your needs better.

How much does earthquake insurance cost for renters?

Earthquake insurance is not particularly expensive for renters. We found that a policy with $25,000 of property coverage — typical limits for a renter in Oakland, California — cost $8.83 per month. A barebones plan with only $5,000 of coverage was only $4.67, while a premium-level plan including coverage for breakable items cost much more: $22.83.

Property coverage limitDeductibleLoss of useBreakablesMonthly premium
$5,00015.00%$1,500No$4.67
$25,00015.00%$10,000No$8.83
$50,00015.00%$15,000Yes$22.83

Earthquake insurance for renters is much less expensive than it is for homeowners. This is because renters insurance doesn't need to protect the structure of your building — only your personal property inside it. For example, we found that the cost of homeowners earthquake insurance in Oakland is $175 per month for $500,000 of coverage.

Methodology

We collected sample earthquake insurance quotes for a home in Oakland, California, at three levels of coverage from the California Earthquake Authority's cost estimator. CEA accounts for about 75% of all earthquake insurance policies sold in California.

Matt is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin who works on distilling the complex details of insurance into accessible advice. He previously created educational content at Grovo Learning and MarketSmiths Content Strategists. Matt's consumer-focused analysis of insurance has appeared in publications like CNBC, Yahoo Finance and the Miami Herald.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.