Earthquakes underscore the need for robust home insurance policy

Millions of earthquakes occur around the world each year, the U.S. Geological Survey says, and homeowners should be prepared for disasters in their communities

Concerned citizens around the world have donated money to help the victims of the recent Haitian earthquake, and the tragedy hints at the damage an earthquake can do.

Many of the Haitian homes destroyed were shoddily built, experts have said. While it's likely that an American home is more solidly constructed than one in Haiti, even a seemingly safe structure can be damaged severely by an earthquake or other natural disaster.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, millions of quakes occur around the world each year. No mainland Americans died in one in 2009, but people in American Samoa were killed because of an earthquake.

Even if a natural disaster doesn't result in casualties, it can cause substantial property damage. While Gulf Coast residents are familiar with the dangers posed by hurricanes and cold-weather homeowners are likely to protect their pipes from freezing, few people plan for earthquakes - but that doesn't diminish their danger.

Homeowners should carry property insurance to protect against all kinds of unplanned damage and provide coverage for liabilities; some people may want to consider an earthquake rider on their existing policy, as well.

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Posted: January 14, 2010

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