Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fear Factor: Earthquake Insurance Sales Skyrocket in State

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fear Factor: Earthquake Insurance Sales Skyrocket in State

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Recent earthquakes have spurred an increasing number of worried Oklahomans to make a risky investment in earthquake coverage, knowing they may never file a claim.

Since residents began to feel the shaking and quaking of the ground below them in 2011, data from the Oklahoma Insurance Department revealed a huge increase in the purchase of earthquake insurance policies around the state.

After surveying the 10 most popular homeowner insurers in Oklahoma, the OID compiled data revealing that before November 2011 about 2 percent of homeowners had purchased earthquake insurance. That number has increased drastically, with 20 to 25 percent of new or renewal homeowner policies now including earthquake coverage.

"The increase in earthquake insurance, as you might expect, has tracked the increase in numbers of quakes, media attention and corresponding public awareness since 2011," OID senior attorney Gordon Amini wrote in an email.

From 2009 to 2014, Oklahomans experienced an average of 193 earthquakes per year of magnitude 3 and larger, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey. In 2014, the number of earthquakes peaked with 688 of magnitude 3 or greater recorded. That same year, the top 10 homeowner insurers combined reported only 54 claims filed, Amini said.

Denise Johnson, president and CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, said the increase in policies can be attributed to the market.

"Up until three years ago, we thought (earthquake insurance) was only needed in California," Johnson said. "More people are buying it because it is available for them to buy."

More Oklahomans are now invested in earthquake insurance than Californians, with only 10 percent of homeowners in California having coverage, according to the California Department of Insurance.

"Companies are adding endorsements they maybe didn't have two to three years ago," Johnson said. …

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