When buying a home or a condo, one of the most common things to look at is homeowner's insurance.
But, one thing that most Kansans don't think about is earthquake insurance.
With the recent quakes that struck in Colorado and on the East Coast, Kansas Insurance Commission Sandy Praeger said that earthquake insurance should be considered for home buyers.
"Earthquake coverage is not a part of a regular homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy," Praeger said. "If your company offers it, coverage can be added by including an endorsement to your policy or by purchasing a separate earthquake policy. In either case, you will pay an extra premium."
A little-known fact about Kansas is that there is a fault line that runs though the state. According to the Kansas Geological Survey, the Humboldt Fault Zone — which runs along the eastern edge of the Nemaha Ridge, a buried granite mountain range that extends from Omaha to Oklahoma City — passes near Wamego, east of Manhattan to El Dorado. West of the ridge is the Midcontinent rift, which runs from near Salina to the Great Lakes region and is a zone where the continental crust broke apart and drifted about 50 miles during the Earth's early days.
In addition to the Humboldt Fault Zone, Kansas can also be affected by the New Madrid fault in southeast Missouri.
As for earthquake insurance, Praeger said there are several things to consider when deciding which coverage is best:
• Coverage can protect your dwelling, other structures like a garage and your personal property. It may cover increased costs to meeting current building codes and costs to stabilize the land under your dwelling;
• Coverage does not include damage to your vehicles. That may be covered under your current automobile policy. Check with your local insurance agent or company to verify the vehicle coverage;
• Insuring a dwelling for its appraisal or loan value likely means you will only have enough coverage to repay your lender. You should review your dwelling coverage from time to time to be sure it doesn't drop below the cost to replace your home;
• Questions to ask yourself: How much would it cost to repair or rebuild your home? How much would it cost to replace your household items? How much would it cost to find a temporary place to live because you could not live in your home after an earthquake?
• The deductible for earthquake insurance usually is 10-20 percent of the coverage limit. This is different from a homeowner's policy, which is usually only one flat amount deductible, like $500 or $1,000;
• The time to buy coverage is before an earthquake. Most insurers won't sell any new earthquake insurance for 30 to 60 days after a recent earthquake;
• As with any household coverage, make a household inventory. Go through each room to write down and video everything in the room. Store the inventory in a secure place at another location, such as a safe deposit box. (For a download of Personal Home Inventory, log on to www.ksinsurance.org and click on "Publications.");
• Put your agent's or company's toll-free number into your cell phone directory.
"With other states in the region experiencing earthquake activity, Kansans should be aware of their options in purchasing insurance coverage that protects their property," Praeger said. "Your best source for determining your need and coverage levels is your local insurance agent or agency."
For additional assistance, contact the Kansas Insurance Department's Consumer Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484.