SC homeowners should check insurance plans after Haiti earthquake

From the South Carolina Insurance News Service:

COLUMBIA, SC – The South Carolina Insurance News Service is reminding everyone that with the Haiti earthquake, now would be a good time to check your own insurance plan coverage.

According to the SCINS, the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti last week was smaller than the quake of 1886 that caused widespread damage in South Carolina. Experts estimate that if the Charleston quake — which measured a 7.3 magnitude on the Richter scale — were to occur today, damage to insured property would exceed $40 billion.

Ninety percent of the brick structures around Charleston were damaged in the 1886 quake, which was felt from Cuba to New York and from Bermuda to the Mississippi.

According to SCNIS many South Carolinians do not carry earthquake insurance. Based on a survey by the South Carolina Insurance News Service, as few as 10 percent to 15 percent of homeowners choose to purchase earthquake insurance.
Most basic homeowner and rental insurance policies do not cover damage caused by an earthquake, but coverage can be added to most policies as an "endorsement" for an additional cost. Earthquake insurance covers the damage to a home and its contents caused by the movement of the earth.

The South Carolina Insurance News Service provides the following facts about earthquakes:

 1.  Most people don't buy earthquake insurance because they think it's too expensive and an earthquake will never happen to them.

2.  In South Carolina, the entire state is considered to have a moderate to high risk for earthquakes.

3.  An earthquake of the same magnitude as the 1886 earthquake would cost close to $40 billion in today's dollars (according to Applied Insurance Research).
 Most homeowner and rental insurance policies DO NOT cover damages caused by an earthquake, but coverage can be added to most policies as an "endorsement" for an additional cost.

4.  Earthquake deductibles are set as percentages, i.e. 5% or 10% of the coverage amount rather than fixed dollar amounts. The earthquake deductibles apply separately from your basic homeowner's (and business) policy deductible. Following a damaging earthquake, South Carolinians could face loss of life, injury and property damage. Without earthquake insurance, you would have to pay for all losses to your home and possessions.

5.  Earthquake insurance can be quite inexpensive depending on the location and type of construction of your home. The average cost of an earthquake endorsement for a $250,000 home in the Charleston area would be approximately $200-$250 per year.

6.  Contact your insurance agent or company to find out what the costs would be for your home.

7.  Consider retrofitting your home to make it more resistant to earthquake damage.

8.  Educate your children about earthquakes and what they should do if an earthquake occurs.

9.  Check for hazards in your home. For example, consider fastening shelves securely to walls, place large or heavy objects on lower shelves and store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches. Also, if you have a frame house, is it fastened to the foundation? Secure your hot water tank with straps so it cannot tip over.
Are your gas connectors flexible to help prevent fire? Learn how to turn off the gas, electricity and water to your house after an earthquake.

For any additional questions contact Wally Burbage with Allstate Insurance at

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

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"Carolina Joe" Idleman

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