Daily Archives: Aug. 30, 2011

Do Kansans need earthquake insurance?

Damaging earthquakes are rare in Kansas. But when they happen elsewhere, Kansans have stepped up. In January 2010, these volunteers in Wichita packed meals to ship to victims in Haiti.

TOPEKA — If you live in the Wichita area, you’ve probably thought about insurance coverage for floods, tornadoes and fires. But earthquakes? Do we really need to worry about earthquakes in Kansas?

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said today that recent earthquakes in Oklahoma and out east have elevated people’s awareness, and her office noted that Kansas has fault lines running through the state.

“Earthquake coverage is not a part of a regular homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy,” she said in a prepared statement. “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.”

But one of the state’s top earthquake experts who has studied tremors for more than 30 years said he wouldn’t buy the insurance for his home.

“When people call me and ask if they should take out earthquake insurance, I tell them it’s fairly cheap and if you’ll sleep better at night and can afford it, go for it,” said Don Steeples, a McGee Distinguished professor of geophysics at the University of Kansas.

The last earthquake to cause significant damage in the Wichita area was a 5.2 to 5.5 magnitude quake in 1867 along the Nemaha Ridge, which runs roughly from Omaha to Oklahoma City. That quake started near Manhattan.

The Humbolt Fault runs along the Nemaha’s eastern edge near El Dorado. It is capable of producing earthquakes of up to 6.0 on the Richter Scale.  But Steeples said an earthquake of that magnitude happens only about every 2,000 years. Read More »