Sinkholes and Earthquakes Are Not Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

05 Jan
standard homeowners insurance policy

Did you know that sinkholes, earthquakes and even sewer lines are not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy?

When it comes to homeowners insurance there are some perils that are not covered and others that use a different deductible formula. Clearly understanding your policy is key to making sure you are fully protected in the event that disaster strikes.

Here are a few common items that are not covered by a standard homeowners policy:


Sinkholes can cause tremendous damage to a house, and it is possible that you will be on the hook for the damages. Basically, sinkholes are gaps or holes that appear suddenly in the earth’s surface. They are caused when groundwater dissolves the underlying bedrock. This creates large cracks and pores in the bedrock and once large cavities have formed underground the land above it may suddenly collapse, creating a sinkhole.

Unfortunately, when the land collapses it take everything sitting on top of it with it, including houses.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, sinkholes are most common in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Sinkholes are not as uncommon as you would think, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, there are 15,981 verified sinkholes in Missouri.

Despite the large number of sinkholes out there, the majority of standard homeowner policies do not cover damage that is associated with “earth movement” which includes both sinkholes and earthquakes.

Currently, Florida is the only state that requires insurers to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse”. Tennessee does require insurers to offer it as an option for an additional price. Most insurers do offer a rider that would cover sinkhole damage but it will come at an additional cost.

If you live in a state where sinkholes are common or you are aware of potential sinkholes on your property carrying sinkhole coverage is highly recommended.


Just like sinkholes, damage due to an earthquake is not covered by a standard homeowners policy. Earthquakes can do tremendous damage to a home and if you are not properly protected, you may be writing a big check to repair your house.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey the following states are the most common locations for earthquakes: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Oregon.

While damage caused directly by the earthquake is not covered, if the quake causes a fire at your home, that damage will be covered. In addition, if the house is unlivable due to the fire, your homeowners policy may cover living expenses while you are out of the house.

Earthquake coverage is available as an add-on to any standard homeowners policy. Prices vary dramatically. In California, as an example, the statewide average is roughly $800 per year but premiums can shoot up to $2,000-$5,000 a year for a home in San Francisco.

Obviously, if you live on a fault line, earthquake insurance is a must have but it’s important to remember that earthquakes can have an impact over a wide area. If your house falls within any quake zones you should absolutely consider an earthquake policy.

Damage caused by flooding, even if the flood is a result of the earthquake will not be covered by your earthquake endorsements.

How the deductible is handled varies dramatically with an earthquake policy. Instead of a set amount such as $500 or $1,000, the deductible for an earthquake policy is based on a percentage of your policy limit.

As an example, an average deductible on an earthquake policy is 15%, which equates to $75,000 on a home that is insured for $500,000.

Backed Up Sewer Lines

Sewer lines can be surprisingly old, in many cities they are over 100 years old. When more and more houses are connected to these aging lines, it is not uncommon for sewer backups to happen. It’s not just old lines that back up a sewer line, tree roots can work their way into the line causing problems.

Regardless of the cause, sewer back-ups can be expensive. It can damage, walls, floors, electrical systems and even furniture, expenses that will not be covered by a standard homeowner policy.

Sewer backup damage riders can be added to your policy to ensure that you are fully protected. They are pretty affordable, running about $40-$50 a year.

We can help make sure your home is fully protected. Simply fill out our quick and easy online quoting application and we will compare multiple quotes from up to 12 different carriers. Start comparing and saving on your next homeowners insurance policy today!

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