Earthquakes A Growing Threat In Unlikely Places
Texas probably isn’t the first state that comes to mind when you think “earthquake risk,” but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. Geological Survey from upgrading risk projections for North Texas in 2015. According to a new article from Claims Journal, the Dallas area has experienced more than 120 earthquakes since 2008. As a result, USGS will “likely upgrade the risk of an earthquake occurring in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”
Irving, Texas, has experienced 22 earthquakes in a single month.
Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Project in Golden, Colorado, believes the upgrade will be “slight,” but it still shows quakes are becoming more prevalent in areas where they used not to be.
“For the first time the agency will include quakes believed to be caused by human activity in its National Seismic Hazard Map,” Claims Journal notes, adding that Southern Methodist University (SMU) seismologists “have linked two local earthquake clusters with wastewater injection wells, where companies dispose of chemical-laced fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) process.
What do insurance customers need to take from this development?
- They should not fixate on Texas.
Even though the latest development pertains to Texas, it is indicative of a possible risk growing throughout the country, especially in areas where fracking is a practice. Thus far, the earthquakes in unlikely areas like Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, have resulted in no casualties or excessive damages, but it has introduced what was once considered a geographical anomaly into everyday life. For customers who carry home insurance, they should be mindful of this as they move forward and investigate earthquake data in their respective areas.
- They should examine current coverages.
Historically, home insurance does not include protections for damages caused by an earthquake. That requires a rider that most homeowners in the newly affected states haven’t considered. While it’s understandable that a customer might want to refrain from doing anything about earthquake protection at this juncture, they should at least be made aware of the growing risk in areas like North Texas. Should manmade influences cause greater earthquakes down the line, they could be finding themselves in a significantly more vulnerable position.
- They should start evaluating their budgets.
Many homeowners will not want to be left without protection in the event of an earthquake, and while the threat level may still be low, it’s never too early to plan ahead for future expenses. California, which is in some parts considered a high-risk area for earthquakes, features a statewide average insurance rate of about $800 per year. (San Francisco can run anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per year for a 1,400-square foot home, but that is also a significantly higher risk area than what you’ll find in fracking hot beds.) Assuming that lower risk areas max out at California’s statewide average, a family might consider looking at places in their budget where they can free up $60 to $70 per month for the added coverage. They might also check with your company to see about any discounts that may apply.
In an ever-changing world where manmade advancements can pose unexpected new threats, it is important for the savvy homeowner to think ahead and put in the legwork to research what is going on in their area. While fracking is yet to be considered a serious threat, there is evidence that it has produced earthquakes in some unlikely places. Now is a good time for your home insurance leads and customers to think ahead and decide whether earthquake protections are something they would like to add now or perhaps consider adding in the future.