Earthquake insurance may not cover “man-made” quakes

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OKLAHOMA -- Earthquake insurance seems to be something more and more Oklahomans are feeling is necessary, especially as the number and size of the quakes grow.

But could your insurance company soon deny your damage claim based on the belief a quake is man-made?

For most, earthquake coverage is something they are still learning to navigate. The high deductible plans are typically designed to cover catastrophic damage.

As our understanding of earthquakes grows, those policies change.

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said, “Most Americans, their single largest risk is losing their home.”

Tornadoes, fires, floods and earthquakes are all concerns of Oklahoma homeowners.

“We want to make sure consumers are educated on knowing what the policies cover and don't cover,” Doak said.

Commissioner Doak is working to make sure those earthquake policies will cover earthquake damage, even if it's determined those quakes were caused by injection wells.

The problem is this: if an insurance company decides not to cover man-made earthquakes, it could become a battle for consumers to use their coverage.

Doak said, “Really, at the end of the day, it's going to be up to the insurance companies once they get that data based on the terms and conditions of that policy.”

If a consumer disagrees with the decision, it is then up to them to take the issue to court or to try and mediate, with the help of the insurance commission.

Commissioner Doak says his department will do what they can to help consumers navigate the changes as they come, not necessarily taking a stand on how or why the earthquakes are happening.

“Our area is not to be geologists or on the science side of it. Our job is to make sure that these products and services are clearly communicated to Oklahomans," Doak said.

The insurance commissioner says the best thing we can all do is thoroughly read our policies to make sure we know what is and is not covered, especially as it relates to injection wells or any process carried out by the oil and gas industry.

The corporation commission has taken big steps to regulate injection wells, but they say they are not the ones who would decide if a quake was in fact man-made.

So, ultimately who would make the decision as to whether an earthquake is man-made? The commissioner says that is still up for debate.

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