Though the Northeast is by far less seismically active than the West Coast, earthquakes do occur here. New York City sits on a geologically complex structure of the northern Appalachian Mountains that averages a moderate earthquake (around 5.0 magnitude) every 100 years. So does that mean you need earthquake insurance in New York? Here’s what you need to know.
The last significant earthquake in the region, which measured 5.5 on the Richter scale, occurred in 1884 with its epicenter near Coney Island. Most quakes in the region are more like the 2.4 magnitude quake that struck in January of 2001 and was felt in Long Island City, Queens, and the Upper East Side of Manhattan near 125th Street.
Because the bedrock is cooler and softer in the northeastern U.S., earthquakes travel around ten times farther out east than on the West Coast. That explains why the 5.8 magnitude quake centered in northern Virginia that occurred on August 2011 was felt by building occupants throughout Manhattan, and even caused some building damage in Brooklyn.
Of more concern than these minor tremors is the Ramapo Fault, which spans more than 185 miles in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and is the most seismically active feature in the region.
Thanks to the Ramapo Fault, a 2008 FEMA study ranked New York State the fourth most at-risk state for “potential annualized building-related earthquake losses.” The New York City-New Jersey-Long Island metro region was the twenty-first most at-risk metro region, due largely to its rows and rows of attached unreinforced brick buildings.
(You’ll notice a conspicuous absence of brick buildings on the West Coast. That’s because they are very vulnerable to earthquakes.)
The study concluded that a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake along the Ramapo Fault could cause billions of dollars in damage. Now that you know there is some risk, here’s what you need to know about earthquake insurance in New York.
Few homeowners insurance policies (or condo or renters, for that matter) include coverage for earthquake damage.
Read your policy to see if it is excluded. If you are not covered for earthquake damage and would like to be, contact your insurer to see if it can be purchased as an endorsement or bought as a separate policy.
On average, an endorsement in New York averages between 60-90 cents per $1,000 of protection.
TSC Direct has provided Metro New York City residents with home, condo, co-op and renters insurance since 1986. Our motto is “for New Yorkers, by New Yorkers” because we understand the unique needs of our community.
We are known for superior service, lower rates, and a simple and efficient claims process. When possible, we deliver claims checks to NYC residents by hand rather than putting them in the mail.
We write homeowners insurance policies for residents living in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Orange counties.
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