Downtown Portland, Oregon
Downtown Portland, Oregon

Earthquake Retrofit Requirements for Insurance

In order to qualify for earthquake insurance in Oregon most insurance companies require a home to be retrofitted. Retrofitting is anchoring a house to the foundation with anchor bolts. A home that has been retrofitted is able to resist much greater earthquake forces and has a lower risk of being damaged. Most of the homes built in Oregon within the past 20 years have been designed to conform to stricter building codes and will be better equipped to resist the force of an earthquake. Homes that have been built prior to this time frame are most likely more vulnerable to earthquake damage.

If you’re thinking about purchasing earthquake insurance the time to do it is not after an earthquake. Companies won’t sell earthquake insurance coverage after a major quake to protect themselves against claims from aftershocks. Most earthquake coverage moratoriums can last anywhere from 10 days to up to 30 days or more.

For homes built prior to 1980 insurance companies might require the following underwriting information in order to qualify for earthquake coverage:

  1. A photo of the water heater showing metal strapping around the belly of the tank and bolted to wall studs. The water heater should be strapped at the top and bottom of the unit.
  2. Verification will be required that the sill plate is properly bolted to the foundation. Acceptable verification could be a structural engineer’s report, contractor’s receipt for retrofitting, or photos at different locations showing the anchor bolts securing the sill plate to the foundation. To get an understanding on the cost of retrofitting and bolting your Portland home to the foundation I recommend contacting Stephen Gemmell of Earthquake Tech, a Portland Oregon Retrofitting Expert. Stephen can come out and provide you with an estimate for the cost of bolting your home to the foundation. To view videos of the how the process works to retrofit your Portland home foundation click here.
  3. Dwellings with cripple wall construction require photos showing that the cripple walls have been properly reinforced with plywood or board sheathing.

Please note insurance companies might have underwriting requirements that exclude your home from being eligible for earthquake coverage. Your home might not qualify for earthquake insurance if:

 If the dwelling is 100% masonry

 If the dwelling is a log home

 If the dwelling is built on a post and pier foundation

 If the dwelling has an open foundation

 If the dwelling is built before 1950

 If the dwelling is built on a significant slope

 If the dwelling has a cement or tile roof

 If the dwelling is located in the Northwest Hills of Portland

As an insurance broker I help individuals throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest manage risk.