The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Tuesday, Sept. 29, 1998


Insurers aren't seeing too many quake claims

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

Friday's earthquake shook a few local people with earthquake insurance into filing claims, brokers report.

Ralph C. Mehler Agency in Sharpsville processed one claim --for, a cracked chimney, Mehler said. But he wasn't sure if the claim would qualify because of the homeowner's deductible.

Friday's quake registered 5.2 on the Richter scale, which is considered moderate. No injuries or major damage were reported but it did prompt a few phone calls to insurance brokers questioning them about earthquake insurance.

Petrini Realty & Co. wrote a new earthquake policy for a customer 30 minutes after the local temor hit, said Francis Petrini, owner of the Sharon insurance agency.

"When it starts to rain hard, people get interested in flood insurance,'' Petrini said. "I guess it's the same for earthquakes.''

Insurance brokers said only 1 percent to 2 percent of their local customers have earthquake policies. The insurance is not included under regular homeowners policies. The insurance is inexpensive in this area because quakes are rare, but the policies are unpopular because of their deductibles, broker said.

Brokers said the average annual cost of earthquake insurance locally is $25 to $50, depending on the type of house. The insurance is more expensive for brick homes than for frame houses. Generally, insurance for a frame house costs 20 cents for every $1,000; coverage for a brick home costs 40 cents per $1,000, brokers said.

"A frame home has give when the earth shakes,'' said James W. Allen, president of Allen Agency Inc., Hermitage. "Bricks will have more significant cracking.''

A few callers asked about earthquake insurance Monday morning inquiring, he said.

Deductibles for quake insurance are about 2 percent, so a home insured for $100,000 would have to have more than $2,000 damage before the insurance would kick in.

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Updated Sept. 29, 1998
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