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Earthquake Insurance Becomes Boom Industry in Oklahoma

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oklahoma earthquakeAt least one industry is benefiting from the recent epidemic of tremors in the Sooner State

Just a few years ago, earthquake insurance wasn’t something many thought much about in Oklahoma. That’s changed with the outbreak of tremors that has rattled the state in recent years, which many blame on increased oil- and gas-drilling activity.

“Every time there’s a decent-size earthquake, there’s a spike in interest,” says Matthew Ramirez, an agent for Farmer’s Insurance in Edmond, which has been affected by many of the recent quakes. So far in 2014, Oklahoma has seen 200 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or stronger.

Standard homeowner policies generally don’t cover damage caused directly by earthquakes (to a building’s foundation, for instance), though they usually do cover the damage that earthquakes can cause, such as burst pipes or fire. Before November 2011, Ramirez insured “three or four homes” for earthquake coverage, “including mine,” he says. On Nov. 6, that all changed. A magnitude-5.6 earthquake — the largest ever recorded in Oklahoma — destroyed 14 homes and injured two people. “In the days that followed, we were flooded with earthquake calls, about 20 per day for two weeks,” Ramirez says.

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