Earthquake Insurance for Churches: Do You Need Earthquake Insurance For Your Church Buildings
Church congregations are not immune to natural disasters. In the United States, churches have experienced damage from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.
While some churches are fortunate to be located in areas that rarely experience these disasters, others are not so lucky.
For example, California is considered one of the most earthquake-prone states in the country. As a result, many churches in California have earthquake insurance.
But what exactly is earthquake insurance? How much does it cost? And are there other steps churches should take to prepare for an earthquake?
Keep reading to find out.
What is Earthquake Insurance Coverage for Church?
Earthquake insurance is a type of coverage that protects the physical structure of the church, as well as any personal property inside it, from damage caused by earthquakes.
Earthquake policies have large deductibles, which should not be a reason for not obtaining a church earthquake insurance policy.
This type of coverage can help cover expenses such as repairs or replacement costs for damaged buildings and personal belongings in case of an earthquake. Additionally, it may provide financial assistance for losses such as lost income due to an inability to use the building during reconstruction efforts.
What are the Best Practices for Getting Earthquake Insurance for Churches?
1. Investigate Available earthquake Insurance Policies for Churches
Working with an independent insurance agency specializing in churches will help in your research of available earthquake insurance policies for churches. Integrity Now Insurance Brokers will help you obtain earthquake quotes and compare the different policies and their coverage options to determine which fits your needs best.
As church insurance brokers, we have access to every earthquake insurance provider that provides earthquake coverage for religious organizations.
2. Find Out Whether Church Property Insurance covers your Buildings
One of our church property insurance agents can help review your current church insurance policy and identify areas of concern and improvements. With the sudden rise in inflation over the past few years, many church-building insurance policies are underinsured by 30 percent or more.
3. Discuss Your Earthquake Insurance Needs with a Church Insurance Professional
A church insurance professional can help you find the right earthquake insurance for churches or ministries in earthquake-prone areas. We will help you compare different policies according to cost, coverage details, and deductibles to decide which suits your church or ministry’s needs best.
Once you have decided on an appropriate earthquake insurance policy, review it thoroughly with the help of your church insurance professional before signing on the dotted line (make sure all of your questions are answered).
Review the building limits and ensure the business personal property is adequately insured in case of a total loss.
Earthquakes in areas prone to them, like Alaska, California, or Nevada, where many churches near fault lines need earthquake insurance as part of their risk management practices.
4. Consider Additional Perils That Might Need Church Insurance Coverage
When buying earthquake insurance, churches should consider reviewing their church insurance policies to ensure they include coverage for additional perils such as theft or vandalism of the church building, injuries to those engaged in church activities, officer protection in case of claims against the church, loss due to fire, flood, or natural disaster.
A complete insurance review is vital for all churches but, most important, for small church insurance programs. Small churches often cut corners or use an insurance agent who does not specialize in church insurance.
5. Make Sure the Coverage Amount Is Sufficient
Contact a licensed church insurance agent to determine whether your church property insurance and general liability coverage limits are adequate. Your California earthquake insurance program must be insured to the correct building values.
Earthquake insurance companies need to know the coverage amounts your current church insurance company is insuring your place of worship.
Earthquake insurance covers not only the costs to rebuild but can include loss of business income and extra expenses if you need to relocate to a different facility.
6. Look into Additional Coverage Options, Such as a Flood Insurance Policy
While earthquake insurance is vital for many churches across America, including Mississippi and Tennessee when obtaining insurance quotes, churches in flood-prone areas must also consider flood coverage. A large earthquake in the ocean can trigger a tsunami, leading to flooding on the west coast and other coastal regions.
When drafting your annual church budget, consider including earthquake and flood insurance costs as part of your general fund.
7. Consider a Higher Earthquake Deductible to Reduce Insurance Premiums
A higher earthquake deductible can help reduce insurance premiums for churches because it allows carriers to balance out the risk of potential loss by requiring a larger deductible.
By requiring a higher deductible, insurers can offer lower premiums for churches with property insurance coverage. This is especially important in areas where earthquakes are more likely or have an average intensity greater than in other regions of the country.
8. Have a Backup Plan in Case of a Finance Shortfall
Even with earthquake insurance to protect against the big one, churches need the proper finances to cover the large deductibles in the event of a catastrophic loss.
How Much Does Earthquake Insurance Cost?
The cost of earthquake insurance varies depending on several factors, such as where your property is located, the square footage of your religious organization, the age of your property and construction type, distance from a fault line, and foundation and soil conditions.
- Californians are unique in that they buy their earthquake insurance through a public-private partnership called the California Earthquake Authority which is accessed through a handful of private insurance companies.
- In most states, standard homeowners or business insurance policies do not cover earthquakes but require separate policies from private insurers at an additional cost.
- Premiums can differ widely by location, insurer, and type of structure that is covered; older buildings tend to cost more than new ones; regions graded on the likelihood of quakes may be reflected in rates offered in those areas; brick homes may cost more than frame houses; deductibles generally range from 2% – 20% replacement value with some insurers setting minimum deductibles at 10%.
Top US States Most Prone to Earthquakes
Alaska takes the top spot in the US of states prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Ring of Fire. This includes high levels of tectonic activity and volcanic eruptions, which can lead to powerful earthquakes.
Alaska’s proximity to these natural disasters makes it especially vulnerable, as evidenced by recent large-scale quakes in 2016 and 2018 that caused widespread damage and loss of life.
California is known as the state with the most earthquake damage due to its high risk of earthquakes and the total population of the state. California also has active fault lines and mountain ranges that can act as catalysts for quakes.
Scientists have identified more than 450 potentially dangerous fault lines in California alone – more than any other state in the US.
Nevada is a high-risk earthquake state due to its location near several major fault lines. The region is prone to large earthquakes, such as the 7.5 magnitude Northridge earthquake in 1994, which caused over $15 billion in insured losses. Additionally, Nevada has experienced numerous minor quakes over the years that have caused damage and loss of life.
The Hawaiin island chain sits on an active subduction zone where tectonic plates constantly move and collide. This activity causes frequent seismic activity, resulting in high levels of volcanic activity and earthquakes.
The risks associated with earthquakes in Hawaii include tsunamis, landslides, damage to infrastructures such as roads and buildings, loss of life, and property damage.
Washington is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Cascadia subduction zone, a fault line that runs from northern California to British Columbia. Earthquakes in Washington can be particularly destructive due to the state’s mountainous terrain, which amplifies the force of seismic waves.
The most dangerous areas in Washington regarding earthquakes are along the coastlines and near active volcanoes such as Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. These areas experienced significant volcanic eruptions just decades ago: Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mt Rainier in 2004-2008 (the largest recorded since 1857).
Wyoming is prone to earthquakes due to its location along the North American tectonic plate boundary. The region experiences frequent seismic activity due to the ongoing collision between the tectonic plates, which causes stress on the surrounding rock and ground. This accumulated stress can eventually lead to an earthquake, causing potential damage and risks for those living in the area.
The risk of earthquakes in Wyoming is heightened by factors such as the region’s geology, topography, and hydrology. For example, areas with high concentrations of rock types, such as limestone or shale, are more susceptible to seismic activity than other regions with different geological formations.
In Idaho, the risk of earthquakes is relatively low compared to other parts of the United States, but they can still occur and impact churches and religious groups. The US Geological Survey estimates that there is a one percent chance of an earthquake measuring over seven on the Richter scale occurring in Idaho within the next 50 years.
Idaho is located in a region known as the Basin and Range Province, which is prone to seismic activity due to its geology and topography. The state also lies along several major fault lines, including those running through Nevada, Oregon, California, and Washington.
Montana is located within the Basin and Range Province, which is prone to seismic activity due to its tectonic activity. Earthquakes in Montana are usually small but can cause damage and injuries if they occur near populated areas.
In Utah, seismic activity is relatively low compared to other parts of the United States. However, it is still essential to be aware of potential risks and take steps to minimize them.
Utah has experienced several minor earthquakes over the past few decades, including a 3.6 magnitude earthquake near Fillmore in 2016 and a 4.3 magnitude quake near Richfield in 2012. There have been no significant earthquakes recorded within Utah’s borders since modern recordkeeping began in 1900; however, scientists have identified several active fault lines throughout the state, which could potentially lead to larger quakes if they rupture during an earthquake event.
Oregon is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of volcanoes and fault lines around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Oregon’s proximity to active volcanoes such as Mount Hood and Crater Lake makes it especially vulnerable to seismic activity. Furthermore, Oregon sits on top of several major fault lines, including the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which scientists say is long overdue for a major earthquake.
Deadliest U.S. Earthquakes in History
The deadliest U.S. earthquakes in history include:
- The 1964 Alaskan Earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and caused more than $500 million in property losses.
- The Northridge, California earthquake of January 17, 1994, caused insured losses estimated at $15.3 billion (2018 dollars).
- The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 would have caused insured losses of up to $105 billion (2018 dollars) if it occurred under current economic and demographic conditions.
As US cities increase in population, the size and magnitude of losses will inevitably top 1 trillion dollars in years to come.
Top Natural Disasters in the United States
The top natural disasters in the United States include hurricanes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and earthquakes.
- Hurricanes are some of the most devastating natural disasters in the country, as they can cause extensive damage to infrastructure and property.
- Wildfires also threaten communities across the US due to their ability to spread quickly and cause extensive damage.
- Floods can lead to the destruction of property and loss of life if people cannot escape in time.
- Droughts can lead plants and animals alike into starvation situations if they do not have access to water sources.
- Finally, earthquakes pose a significant threat due to their potentially catastrophic damage over large areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Earthquake Insurance, and what does it cover?
Earthquake insurance is a type of property insurance that pays the policyholder if an earthquake causes damage to their property.
It covers physical damage to the insured property caused by earthquakes, including structural damage, cracked walls and floors, and broken windows or doors. It also covers the loss of personal belongings and other financial losses resulting from the earthquake. Additionally, it may provide coverage for additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable due to earthquake damage.
Does general liability insurance for churches cover earthquake damage?
General liability insurance for churches does not cover earthquake damage as it explicitly excludes earthquakes and flood damage.
What is the deductible for Earthquake Insurance?
The deductible for Earthquake Insurance varies from company to company, depending on the risk and likelihood of quakes in a specific area. Most insurers give customers the option of choosing a deductible between 3% and 25% of the value of their church property. The higher the deductible, the lower your earthquake rates will be.
What are other types of insurance necessary for churches in earthquake-prone states?
In addition to earthquake insurance, churches in earthquake-prone states should also consider other types of insurance, such as:
- Church Property Insurance – To protect the church’s physical structure and business personal property.
- Business Interruption Coverage – To cover losses caused by interruptions in business operations due to natural disasters or other events.
- Commercial General Liability Insurance – To cover potential legal liability resulting from accidents on church property or during church activities.
- Abuse and molestation insurance – To protect the church against accusations of sexual misconduct.
- Directors and Officers Insurance – To cover board members for the financial decisions made on behalf of the nonprofit organization.
- Workers Compensation Insurance – Protect the church and employees from liability in the event of injury.
- Religious Expressions Insurance – Protects religious institutions from liability based on their church’s beliefs.
- 15 Passenger Van Insurance – Provides auto insurance liability protection in the event of an accident.
How can churches reduce their vulnerability to earthquakes?
- Assess potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. This should include an emergency evacuation plan, earthquake safety guidelines and policies, and regular maintenance of equipment.
- Create an inventory of all business personal property inside the church building with accurate values for each item in case of damage or destruction.
- Make sure all members of staff, volunteers, and visitors are aware of any safety guidelines that need to be followed while they are on the premises
- Ensure church buildings, including the main sanctuary, fellowship hall, and classrooms, are retrofitted adequately for earthquakes.
How can churches purchase Earthquake Insurance?
Contact one of our church insurance agents and request a customized earthquake insurance quote for your local church.
When are churches required to perform earthquake retrofitting before they can buy earthquake insurance?
Older church buildings must be retrofitted before they can purchase earthquake insurance. The most important aspect is that the church must be structurally sound and capable of withstanding an earthquake.
This includes having adequate foundations, reinforced walls, and a roof properly secured to the building frame.
Does car insurance cover earthquakes?
If a church-owned vehicle is damaged due to an earthquake, your business auto insurance policy will typically pay for the damages.
Do you need earthquake insurance?
Yes, if your church is in an earthquake-prone area, you must buy this critical insurance coverage to protect against losses.
Need Affordable Church Insurance Coverage
When looking for an insurance solution to protect your church property when an earthquake happens, look to Integrity Now Insurance Brokers to protect your place of worship and your business property located inside your property.
Our church insurance agents will help you calculate the replacement costs of your church buildings to ensure they can be rebuilt as expected.
Call us for a free church insurance quote and start protecting your congregation today.