May 08, 2007                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      “The 4.6 magnitude earthquake that rattled southwestern Montana this morning serves as a reminder that earthquake damage is not covered by homeowners policies,” said Montana State Auditor John Morrison today following the tremors. As the state’s Insurance Commissioner, Morrison is reminding Montanans that the time for homeowners to be sure they're covered is before a damaging quake hits, not after.
      “Montana is earthquake country,” said Morrison. “We sit in one of the most seismically active regions in the lower 48 states. Folks should be prepared for earthquakes from a safety standpoint, and also from an insurance standpoint.”
      Although earthquake coverage is not automatic, it may be available to Montana homeowners and business owners as an add-on to their existing policy.
      The most common type of earthquake insurance is normally added separately to standard homeowners’ insurance policies. Typically there is a deductible of 5 to 10 percent of the value of the house. This means that for a home currently insured at $200,000, the homeowner would have to pay $10,000 to $20,000 on damages before the insurance company would pay anything. The yearly cost of residential earthquake insurance is normally about $1.50 to $3.00 Per $1,000 of coverage on the structure, depending on the type of construction and the condition of the property. Separate deductibles may apply to contents and structure.
      “If in doubt, homeowners should check with their agent to determine whether they are covered for earthquake damage, and if not whether they should be,” said Morrison. “Montanans can also call my office if they have questions about earthquake insurance."
      With the strongest quake ever recorded in the northern Rockies, Western Montana has a history of large damaging earthquakes. The 1959 quake that uplifted Hebgen Lake near Yellowstone measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. That magnitude thrust the 1959 quake into the record books as one of the ten largest earthquakes ever recorded in the contiguous United States.
      Anyone with insurance-related questions or concerns is invited to contact the Montana State Auditor’s Office at 1-800-332-6148 or 444-2040 in Helena or at