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Earthquakes Really Happen in Missouri. Are You Ready?
Missouri Ag Connection - 02/11/2020

February is Earthquake Awareness month and the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance (DCI) and the Missouri Insurance Education Foundation (MIEF) want to encourage homeowners to assess their financial readiness to recover in the event of a major earthquake event in Missouri. Missouri is the third largest earthquake insurance market in the U.S., following California and Washington.

Experts estimate the chance of a major earthquake of a magnitude 7.5 or greater in the New Madrid zone over the next 50 years is 7-10 percent. The probability of an earthquake exceeding magnitude 6 over the same period is 25-40 percent. A joint assessment by the Mid-America Earthquake Center of the University of Illinois and the Federal Emergency Management Agency predict a New Madrid event could constitute the highest total economic loss of any natural disaster in U.S. history.

Despite these predictions, a report released by DCI in 2019 shows that residences covered by earthquake insurance in the most at-risk counties of the state dropped by 46 percent between 2000 and 2018. DCI and MIEF have partnered to raise awareness about the financial impact an earthquake could have on Missouri homeowners. Earthquake coverage is not a part of the standard homeowner's policy. It, like flood insurance, must be purchased separately.

"It's important that we do all we can to make sure Missouri homeowners know about their options and have time to prepare," says Chlora Lindley-Myers, director of the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance. "We want people to carefully consider how they can take a lead role in their own financial recovery. No one wants to be left without options."

"Many homeowners and business owners believe their existing insurance policies would cover earthquake damage, but that is usually not the case," said Lew Melahn, a MIEF board member and former Director of Insurance in Missouri."We want property owners to be able to make an informed decision about how to protect their investment -- and that starts with weighing their options for earthquake insurance."

To make it easier to shop and compare earthquake insurance options, DCI provides a shopping guide on its website.

"We know insurance seems overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be," said Angela Nelson, DCI Director of the Division of Market Regulation."We want Missourians to know the Department can answer their earthquake questions and tell them which insurers will cover earthquake."

Resources to assist consumers as they make their readiness and recovery plans can be found at centralusquake.org.


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