Earthquake Market Stabilizes After Year of Volatility

The earthquake insurance market saw significant rate movement in 2023, driven primarily by inflation and a focus on valuation. The market is expected to stabilize in 2024, but challenges remain for insureds seeking coverage. Keep reading to learn how agents can help property owners secure the right coverage.

After a year of pricing volatility and tight carrier capacity in 2023, the earthquake insurance market is expected to stabilize in 2024. Inflation rocked property insurance markets throughout last year, and the earthquake coverage market was no exception. Reinsurers scrutinized insurance-to-values (ITVs) to ensure that premium aligned with increased potential reconstruction costs.

ITV corrections led to double-digit rate increases for many policyholders. Some earthquake policies saw premiums rise by 50% or more. As a result, many insureds shopped their coverage only to find little relief available. Others opted to retain more of the risk by raising their deductible to offset some of the premium increase. Also, there were some policyholders who chose to drop earthquake coverage altogether.

In 2024, the majority of insurance carriers have adjusted to align with market expectations. However, this stabilization does not imply that prices will return to the levels seen before inflation. Agents and policyholders should anticipate modest single-digit percentage increases in rates upon renewal, which align more closely with the typical yearly increases experienced in the past.

The market for earthquake insurance varies significantly by region and is tailored to the unique needs and objectives of property owners. Nonetheless, there is a substantial opportunity for insurance agents in the West Coast and certain Midwest areas. Agents who partner with brokers that have expertise in earthquake coverage can most effectively assist their clients in safeguarding their property from potentially devastating costs.


Earthquake coverage is beneficial for any property owner who lives near a fault line. However, some property owners are more likely to opt for earthquake protection:

1. Required by lender. Some lenders may require earthquake insurance as a mortgage condition. This is most common on the West Coast for properties close to a fault line.
2. Equity in a property. If the owner has significant equity in a property, they may seek earthquake coverage to protect their investment.
3. Post-tremor buyers. Many property owners become more interested in coverage after a burst of tremors which may remind them of the risk and potential for a more catastrophic earthquake.


Many potential earthquake coverage buyers may feel the insurance isn’t necessary because there hasn’t been a catastrophic earthquake in a metropolitan area since the early 1990s. In 1994, Los Angeles experienced the Northridge earthquake, a magnitude 6.7 quake that damaged more than 100,000 structures, led to over 70 deaths, and caused $20 billion in damage.1 It was the second major earthquake in California in the five-years span following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in the San Francisco area. That earthquake resulted in nearly $7 billion in damage and famously disrupted the 1989 World Series.2

Since the Northridge event, there’s been a lull in catastrophic earthquakes causing billions in damage. However, even smaller events can be highly destructive. The 2003 San Simeon 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked a small town, killing two, damaging more than 400 buildings, and causing $250 million in damage.3




California is the epicenter of earthquake risk in the United States, but it isn’t the only place where risk exists. The New Madrid fault line, which covers portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois, has been assigned the highest level of hazard risk by the United States Geological Survey. The agency estimates the fault line has a 25% - 40% chance of experiencing a magnitude 6.0 or higher earthquake in the next 50 years. High-level hazard fault lines also exist in Alaska, South Carolina, Hawaii, eastern Tennessee, and coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest. While earthquakes aren’t common in those areas, they are possible.



There are steps agents and insureds seeking earthquake coverage can take to find the right policy for their needs and budget. The first is to work with a knowledgeable broker with experience in the earthquake market.

CRC brokers work with a wide range of carriers. CRC also uses advanced modeling and analytics to assess a property’s unique risk. That modeling can help an agent make more informed and precise coverage recommendations to clients.

Agents can also help clients by setting appropriate expectations about risk and coverage pricing. Premiums can vary greatly depending on a property’s risk. Some of the primary factors that impact premium include:

Proximity to a fault line. The closer a property is to a fault line, the greater the risk.

Age of structures on the property. Older buildings are often viewed as higher risk.

Building type. Masonry structures are sometimes seen as a greater risk because there is less give and flexibility. Proactive steps taken to prevent quake damage. Has the building been earthquake retrofitted or bolted to the foundation to prevent damage in the event of an earthquake?

Accuracy of the application. Are the square footage, construction details, and other information on the application accurate?

Potential for ancillary risks. Is the property at risk of other damage from flooding, fire, and more in the aftermath of an earthquake?


Every property has a unique risk profile. An experienced broker with robust modeling capabilities can help an agent accurately assess a client’s specific risks and coverage needs. By partnering with a knowledgeable earthquake coverage broker, an agent can make informed recommendations and find the right coverage for each client’s goals and budget. Reach out to Team CRC today to learn how we can help.


  • Ben Tschepikow is a Broker with Argenia, a CRC Group Company located in Little Rock, AR, and is a member of the Personal Lines Practice Advisory Committee.
  • Ted Clayton is a Property Broker & Office President of CRC Group’s Santa Ana, California office.
  • Xavier Sepulveda is an Inside Broker and Ariel Bach is a Property Broker with CRC Group’s Santa Ana, CA office.


In 2019, CRC acquired Argenia. Since 1999, Argenia has partnered with the Arkansas Insurance Department / Market Assistance Program to help Arkansas consumers obtain Earthquake coverage. For over 40 years, Argenia has partnered with A-rated carriers to provide insurance agents with the best products and markets. Learn more here.


  1. Northridge Earthquake, January 17, 1994, California Department of Conservation
  2. The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, California Department of Conservation 
  3. San Simeon Quake Report Details Injuries, Damage, LA Times, February 28, 2004
  4. 2 dead, ‘widespread damages’ after 6.4 earthquake in Humboldt County; at least 12 hurt, ABC 7 News, December 21, 2022.
  5. 10 Years Later: The Earthquake of 2010, North Coast Journal, January 9, 2020
  6. 9 years since 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Napa, KRON4, August 24, 2023
  7. The 2019 Ridgecrest, California, Earthquake Sequence, United States Geological Service, May 10, 2021
  8. New USGS Map Shows Where Damaging Earthquakes Are Most Likely to Occur in U.S., USGS, January 16, 2023