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Standard insurance policies don't cover damages like those created by Tuesday's earthquake
David Whitlock (right) and Doug Whitlock of Mineral Auto Parts inspect building for damage after the earthquake.
DAVE ELLIS/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/25/2011
While the amount of damage caused by Tuesday's earthquake is still being calculated, the potential cost of the roughly 5,000 quakes that rock the United States each year has been growing. This is due to increasing urban development in seismically active areas and the vulnerability of older buildings, such as the four historic buildings in Culpeper that were damaged Tuesday.
"Everyone, no matter where they live, should contact their agent or company representative to make sure that they have the right type and amount of insurance," said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president of public affairs and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute.
She added that people also need to have an up-to-date home inventory. This can be done using the institute's free, online program, which is available online at the website knowyourstuff.org
Checking insurance coverage and updating a home inventory could also come in handy if Hurricane Irene barrels this way over the weekend, as is being forecast. Most homeowners' insurance policies cover wind damage, including paying to remove trees that hit a house and to clean up afterward. But it's difficult to find an insurance company willing to make any changes to coverage once a hurricane develops in the Atlantic Ocean.
Policies issued in Virginia generally do not provide coverage for damage to a person's home and belongings due to flooding, according to the State Corporation Commission.
Mortgage companies require property owners who live in a flood zone to have a separate flood insurance policy, which is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Information about this is available from insurance agents and the NFIP at 888/379-9531 or floodsmart.gov.
Even areas that aren't in flood zones can get heavy rains and experience flooding. In fact, 31 to 35 percent of all flood claims happen to people in non-flood zones. Insurance policies are available that are less-expensive than those for people living in flood zones. They go into effect 30 days after the policy is signed.
Optional coverage for such things as water and sewage backup and frozen food that spoiled because the power went off also are available.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407