Most Tennesseans Don’t Have Earthquake Coverage Despite Being Near New Madrid Fault Line

Most Volunteer State residents don’t have earthquake insurance, according to an official with the state’s Department of Commerce and Insurance.

That matters because Tennessee lies along two fault lines — the New Madrid Fault Line in West Tennessee and the East Tennessee fault line.

“Earthquakes can cause a great deal of damage that won’t be covered under your homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy,” said Kevin Walters, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star.

“These policies don’t cover damage due to natural disasters such as earthquake, flood and landslide. Your home is insured for earthquake damage only if you’ve added an endorsement to your policy or bought a separate earthquake policy. A homeowners’ policy and earthquake insurance don’t overlap, but work together to give your home more insurance protection.”

A minor earthquake centered in East Tennessee recently reverberated into four surrounding states.

Media outlets have already predicted a massive earthquake will strike this area of the country at some point.

Nashville insurance agent Scott Koon told The Star Wednesday that some, but not many, customers have called in recent days inquiring about earthquake coverage.

“I would say we have gotten an increased number of calls pertaining to earthquakes,” Koon said.

When asked, Koon said if a large earthquake struck and people didn’t have coverage then it could hurt the economy.

“It could be very similar to the flood back in 2010, and a lot of people weren’t covered and perhaps FEMA steps in,” Koon said.

“At the time of the flood I was a brand new agent, and we took hundreds of calls about what was covered and what wasn’t covered. We had a lot of people who told us they didn’t know they weren’t covered and that their agent never told them that. I just assumed we would write a bunch of flood insurance in the subsequent months — and it just didn’t happen.”

Walters, meanwhile, said anyone curious about whether to get earthquake coverage should review a report on the matter from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Koon said he recommends everyone review their insurance coverage at least once every two years, regardless of potential earthquakes.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “East Tennessee” by Appalachian Voices. CC BY 2.0.

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One Thought to “Most Tennesseans Don’t Have Earthquake Coverage Despite Being Near New Madrid Fault Line”

  1. Randy Pace

    I looked into earthquake coverage a few months ago. The deductible was 40K. No that’s not a typo. The premium was about two hundred buck per year. I’ll take my chances.