Agents Fielding More Calls About Quake Coverage

By Jessica Miller, Enid News & Eagle, Okla.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 22--ENID, Okla. -- Insurance agents are seeing increases in requests for earthquake coverage on homes, with recent seismic activity in the area.

"We are seeing an increase, definitely, of calls, with all the increased activity," Farmers Insurance agent Nathan Crow, of Medford, said. "We're recommending that everyone carries earthquake on their policy, if it's available to them."

A number of agencies sell added endorsements for existing homeowners policies, while other insurance agencies sell separate policies.

"We've contacted our current customers and let them know that (earthquake coverage) is available and that it does not come standard with the policy but it can be endorsed," Crow said. "Any new business that we write, we of course recommend it. It's very, very affordable. So, for the little amount of money that they typically do cost, it kind of seems like a no-brainer to me."

Crow said 60 percent of his policyholders have either added or purchased earthquake insurance.

In the past few months, several earthquakes -- 3.0 magnitude or stronger -- have occurred near Medford.

Alfalfa County Farm Bureau agent Joe Woods, of Cherokee, said his agency writes standalone earthquake policies through one company.

"I haven't seen a significant increase, it's just been kind of steady, people inquiring," he said. "Of course, it kind of comes in spurts from time to time.

"Years ago, we used to endorse it on homeowners policies, and, of course, it wasn't an item that people requested or we added or quoted along with policies. Of course, (with) the increase in the number of earthquakes we've had ... it has been just recently a requested item."

Brad Mennem, owner of Mennem Insurance in Medford, said he has had an increase in homeowners purchasing earthquake coverage.

"More people are asking about it but, you know, there (are) a lot of companies that won't do earthquake (coverage) here in Oklahoma," he said. "Every company has a different reason. I have multiple companies, so there are companies that do it but there's a lot of companies that don't."

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Agents in Alva said there has been some interest in earthquake coverage.

"Not as much as you'd think," Schuessler Insurance & Real Estate agent Mike Hood, of Alva, said. "I guess that wave that was ... maybe six or eight months ago, we might have had maybe a dozen people call. And we've only had maybe two people actually purchase it.

"It's not doing much up around here."

Hood said the problem with the coverage is the deductibles are so high, most homeowners do not purchase coverage.

"(Deductibles) start out at either two percent of the value of the house, or $10,000," he said.

Hood writes policies for about eight major companies, about half of which offer earthquake coverage as an endorsement.

"There is a company that offers it as a standalone product, but it's, oh goodness, it's about a 5 percent minimum deductible," he said. "It's a little bit pricey."

Oklahoma Farm Bureau agent Kenneth Byrd, of Alva, has written some earthquake insurance policies, but not a significant number.

"I've had inquiries wanting to find out how much it was going to cost," he said. "It's probably more in the last six months than what we did in the previous two or three years. Yes, there has been more interest."

Two Enid insurance agencies reported having a flood of interest in coverage.

"We've had a large influx of earthquake inquiries to our office," said Megann Johnson, service manager at State Farm Insurance in Enid.

State Farm Insurance provides endorsements to homeowners policies.

"It's based on what we have their house covered for, and it comes with a separate deductible," she said.

Most customers who inquire about coverage are purchasing it because it is "pretty affordable," according to Johnson.

"Most people are just doing it as a precautionary measure," she said.

Jamie Christy, personal lines manager at Enid Insurance, said the agency has been seeing a "huge increase" in interest.

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"It actually comes in spurts," she said, adding that the agency gets more calls after 3.0 magnitude or stronger earthquakes.

While coverage is "fairly cheap," Christy said the deductible on the coverage is anywhere from 2 to 10 percent of the amount of purchased coverage.

None of the agents reported having received a claim for earthquake damage.


(c)2014 the Enid News & Eagle (Enid, Okla.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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