Due to an increase in seismic activity, earthquakes and other underwater events seem to be happening more often. Those earthquakes occurring in the ocean sometimes spawn tsunamis, which can have devastating effects on coastal areas.
Is your home or business covered in the event of a tsunami?
What is a Tsunami?
A tsunami is defined as “a long, high sea wave caused by an earthquake, submarine landslide or other occurrence.” A list of notable tsunamis from around the world throughout history can be found here.
While many listed tsunamis have occurred outside the United States, there is a precedent for tsunamis affecting the United States. Earthquakes occurring in the Pacific Rim in 1946 and 1964 caused tsunami damage in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. Recent seismic activity on the Pacific Coast has made residents and the US Geological Survey nervous about future events.
Do You Have Tsunami Insurance?
It is important to note that most homeowners policies do not cover earthquakes, flooding or tsunamis. These policies must be purchased separately in order to have coverage for these events.
Where Can I Get Tsunami Coverage?
While your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover it, you can get coverage for tsunamis on other policies.
Earthquake insurance. Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, so it would make sense that there would be coverage under the earthquake policy. However, tsunami coverage is generally a sub-limit of earthquake coverage, and the limit may not be sufficient to cover damage caused by an earthquake-triggered tsunami. It is important to discuss coverage limits with your broker prior to an earthquake or tsunami to determine adequate limits.
Flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program defines a flood as follows:
NFIP does not specify causes of loss that cause the flooding, only that there is flooding. So if an earthquake causes a tsunami, yes, there is coverage under the flood policy.
An important note here is that coverage under NFIP is limited to the amount of insurance on your flood policy: $250,000 or less for homes, $500,000 or less for commercial properties. If you need additional coverage, talk to your insurance broker about purchasing full limits through a private flood insurance company or purchasing a flood insurance excess policy.
FEMA offers a document called Be Prepared For A Tsunami and it includes information on what types of insurance you may need to cover your property in the event of a tsunami. Hayes Brokers can help with that preparation. Call us today.