Renters Insurance

Does Renters Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

Does Renters Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

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Typical renters insurance policies don't pay for damage to your belongings due to an earthquake. Renters living in earthquake-prone areas should purchase a separate policy to protect their personal property from earthquake damage.

How much does earthquake insurance for renters cost?

A standalone earthquake insurance policy is not particularly expensive for renters. A policy with $25,000 of property coverage costs $5.06 per month for a renter in California. A bare-bones plan with $5,000 of coverage was only $3.35 per month, while a premium-level plan including coverage for breakable items cost $11.57.

Property coverage
Loss of use
Monthly cost
Breakables
$5,000$1,500$3.35No
$25,000$10,000$5.06No
$50,000$15,000$11.57Yes

All quotes are based on a 15% deductible.

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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, the cost of homeowners earthquake insurance in California is $148 per month for $500,000 of coverage.

Do I need earthquake insurance as a renter?

Whether you 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?
  • Is there somewhere I could stay if my home were uninhabitable due to an earthquake?

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

Earthquakes can cause significant damage to your belongings. Shaking can result in items falling from shelves or walls, like your TV, dishes and glassware. The side effects of an earthquake can also cause other problems.

Liquefaction can fill your home with liquefied soil, which could ruin your furniture. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides, which may cause catastrophic damage to your home and everything in it.

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 damage from a quake.


What does renters earthquake insurance cover?

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

Perils covered by earthquake insurance

  • Earthquakes
  • Sinkholes
  • Liquefaction
  • Land, mud or rock slides caused by an earthquake
  • Other earth movement
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As with 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 the home or property you are renting.

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


What earthquake insurance for renters doesn't cover

Not covered by renters earthquake insurance

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

Earthquake insurance for renters doesn't cover everything. Damage to your car is generally not covered by earthquake insurance. However, your car's comprehensive coverage, if you have it, will pay for earthquake-related damages.

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

Anything unrelated to earth movement isn't covered, either.

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.

Frequently asked questions

How do I get earthquake insurance for my apartment?

Earthquake insurance is sold two ways: as an add-on to your 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, a stand-alone earthquake insurance policy may have coverage options that suit your needs better.

Should I get earthquake insurance as a renter?

You should consider buying earthquake insurance as a renter if you live in a high-risk area like Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington or Wyoming.

It's also important to consider whether you would struggle to replace your belongings or the cost of temporarily relocating if your home becomes uninhabitable.

How much earthquake insurance do I need?

As a renter, you need to make sure that you have enough earthquake insurance to cover the cost of replacing your belongings. The best way to determine how much personal property insurance you need is by creating an inventory of your belongings.

You'll also need to determine how much alternative lodging will cost if that home becomes uninhabitable after a quake.

Methodology

We collected sample earthquake insurance quotes for rental properties across 25 cities in 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.

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.