Earthquake Insurance

In Canada, there are 4,000 recorded earthquakes each year, and earthquake damage is not covered by a standard home insurance policy. In the next 50 years, there is a 30% chance of a significant earthquake in British Columbia.

What is Earthquake Coverage?

An earthquake is a peril that is not normally included in any type of home insurance policy. Earthquake coverage may be purchased separately as an add-on to your policy, and it is subject to a higher deductible than coverage for other perils. With a higher deductible the cost is spread out, and more people who need it are able to afford it.

What Does it Cover?

Earthquake insurance covers the loss or damage caused to the property and its contents caused by the shaking of the earth. If the shaking of the earth results in a fire (caused by a broken gas main), only the resulting loss or damage from the fire would likely be covered under an ordinary home insurance policy. In certain circumstances, homeowners who are unable to return home as a result of insurable damage may be entitled to additional living expenses.

What to Consider

Earthquakes, while not as frequent as other natural disasters, can cause tremendous damage to homes and other buildings. Unlike other natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes are not limited to specific seasons and give no warning. They can happen at almost any time.

Over the years, the costs of earthquakes have increased due to growing urban development near fault lines and the vulnerability of older structures which were not built or upgraded to current building codes.

Am I at Risk?

According to government studies, there is a 30% chance in the next 50 years that an earthquake strong enough to cause significant damage will strike southwestern British Columbia – including Victoria and Vancouver. 

There is a 5 to 15% chance that a strong earthquake will strike in the next 50 years in the region from the St. Lawrence River Valley to the Ottawa Valley – including Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa.

Earthquake coverage is especially worth considering if you live in an earthquake-prone region. The cost will depend on where your house is and how it was built. Your insurer may be able to advise you on what you can do to reduce the risk of earthquake damage to your home.

An Earthquake Wake-Up Call for Canadians

IBC's commissioned earthquake study estimated the overall costs after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in British Columbia at almost $75 billion. The study also modelled a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in the Quebec City – Montreal – Ottawa corridor; the costs were estimated at almost $61 billion.

Although the two seismic zones studied cover only a small fraction of Canada's area, 40% of Canadians live within the studied areas.

The full report quantifies the amount of damage Canadians can expect. It demonstrates that a major earthquake will have a significant economic impact regionally as well as a domino effect on the entire Canadian economy.