Five Things Oklahomans Need to Know About Earthquake Insurance

Seismograph

viviannguyen / Flickr

Seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently warned that the ongoing earthquake swarm in central-Oklahoma is likely to continue, could get worse, and might be linked to wells oil and gas companies use to store drilling waste-fluid deep underground.

In response, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak advised Oklahomans to buy earthquake insurance.

Oklahoma already has highest average cost for homeowner’s insurance, thanks, in part, to frequent hail, floods, high winds, tornadoes and wildfires — disasters many Oklahomans are well-versed in. But earthquakes are a new experience for many Oklahomans, as are the the related financial costs of preparedness.

Here are five things Oklahomans should know about earthquake insurance. 

1. Almost No Oklahomans Have It

Less than 1 percent of Oklahomans carry earthquake insurance, according to commissioner Doak.

2. Many Oklahomans Might Not Know They Don’t Have It

Earthquake insurance has to be purchased separately from standard homeowner’s policies, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

Earthquake insurance is either an endorsement added to existing coverage or a separate policy from another insurance company.

In response to the quakes and complaints from constituents, State Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, says he will refile a bill requiring insurance companies to alert Oklahomans whether their policies cover earthquake damage.

Shelton filed the bill last year, the Associated Press reports:

Shelton says the measure was opposed by the insurance industry and died in a House committee.

3. Policies are Cheap

A typical Oklahoma homeowner will likely pay $100 to $150 per year for earthquake coverage, says Commissioner Doak. Earthquake policies usually cover structure repairs, damage to personal property, and debris removal.

4. But Deductibles are High

Deductibles for earthquake damage claims are usually higher than standard homeowners’ insurance claims — usually 5 to 10 percent of a home’s value, Monies reports:

At 10 percent, out-of-pocket costs to repair earthquake damage would be $12,000 for a $120,000 house, the median home value in Oklahoma County.

5. You Might Have to Wait Months for Coverage

Due to the likelihood of aftershocks, most insurance companies enforce a post-earthquake “lockout period” that has to expire before homeowners can add coverage The moratorium is usually 30-60 days, but could be as high as 90 days.

The size of an earthquake that triggers a lockout period varies between insurers, too, but Lance Singleton, the Chief Financial Officer for the Oklahoma Agency Alliance, tells News9′s Heather Hope many insurers start the clock after a 4.0-magnitude or greater temblor.


StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Comments

  • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

    I am a Chemical Engineer in Atlanta. Call me crazy but my research is telling me the booms in the atmosphere and Earthquakes over Oklahoma City are possibly being triggered by the 6 or 7 high powered Doppler Weather radars pulsing a few megawatts of energy (enough to power a few thousand homes) continuously into the atmosphere over Oklahoma City and the surrounding area. Think of the atmosphere as a capacitor charging/discharging that energy to the Earth, which acts as a battery and you will understand. 10 months of data collection in Florida show me there are increased algae blooms, sinkholes and fish kills near Doppler towers. They have the highest concentration of Dopplers in Oklahoma City which were recently upgraded and added to since they do weather research at the NWS located there. The Enid area Doppler tower may have triggered the large fish kill near Enid last Summer. This energy absorbed by the atmosphere may trigger more storms/lightning and an increase in weakly ionizing background radiation, which is bad for biology as it discharges to the Earth. I can find NO scientific studies on short/long term effects of this amount of microwave radiation beamed over our heads. The klystron element in a Doppler Tower is similar to the klystron in your microwave oven.

    • SeeYaLaterAlligator

      ChemE Stewart — There are many, many radars around the country, including the WSR-88D radars of which you speak. Weather radars like these typically have a low duty cycle (O(1%)) as they are pulsed radars, which means that the time-averaged transmitted power from a 750,000 W peak-power NEXRAD radar is ~7.5 kW, which is then “transmitted” over a very large area. This, combined with the exponential power density decay with range and the extremely low absorption by air molecules (attenuation of S-band / 10 cm wavelength EM energy by oxygen and other common tropospheric gases is extremely low), means that the average power absorbed by a volume of the atmopshere is very, very, very small. There is no evidence that weather radars “trigger more storms/lightning” nor is there any that support the notion that they can cause earthquakes.

      On the contrary, there *is* research supporting the associations between waste water disposal and fracking/drilling and the recent swarm in earthquakes in Oklahoma. I’d look spend more time on this angle than on the “weather radars cause earthquakes” angle that is not scientifically feasible.

      • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

        1) You have the highest concentration of Doppler Weather radars of any area of the country in Oklahoma City and one near Enid

        2) I realize they are pulsed. What is the biological effect of that instantaneous 750,000 watt pulse on the surroundings? Show me one study of the long/short term effect on surrounding biology. Would you stick your head in a microwave oven for the same pulse time as a doppler klystron? I have been doing a study and in Florida there is a pronounced increase in fish kills due to algae blooms, as well as >75% of the large sinkholes and waterspouts around towers.

        3) Where is that “exponential power density decay” going? into thin air? Have you ever done an energy balance? Energy just not disappear you know. It can build up over time.

        4) What happens when you overlap the pulses of 6 or 7 radars at the same time like you have in Oklahoma City? What happens to that 4 or 5 megawatts of instantaneous overlapping pulsed power? Does that energy accumulate in the atmosphere over time?

        5) I never said fracking does not contribute. But it cannot explain the number and locations of all of your Earthquakes.

        6) It is well know that the Dopplers receive ground clutter reflections? How much of that instantaneous radiation is reaching the ground? Where is it all going. Why has Oklahoma’s autism rate jumped 400%?

        7) Why did the Enid area have one of the largest fish kills ever within short range of the recently upgraded dual pol Doppler station?

        You can’t answer those questions

        • SeeYaLaterAlligator

          No we don’t. There are similarly-spaced radars all across the country. This was by intention, of course, so that as much of the US would be covered as possible. There are four WSR-88D radars in the state of OK, but the coverage isn’t much different than in many other parts of the country. Look at this map: http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/radar/

          The EM energy doesn’t “disappear”, but the density decays exponentially with range because, essentially, the fixed amount of “energy” spreads out over a progressively larger area (ergo, the energy density decreases). Nearly all of the energy passes through the atmosphere. As noted, at S band, attenuation by atmospheric gases is very, very, very small. There is a miniscule amount of attenuation, but that occurs as a result of scattering and absorption (which manifests as thermal agitation). Again, the average power for even the powerful WSR-88D radar isn’t particularly high, especially when one considers the massive volume through which this energy is transmitted.

          What happens to light when it propagates through the atmosphere? Does it accumulate? What happens near cities that have many radio stations? Does the energy from your favorite radio station “accumulate”? No, is propagates through the atmosphere harmlessly.

          There was *not* a power upgrade when the radars underwent the dual-pol upgrade. There was a 3 dB reduction in the horizontal channel when the power was split evenly into the horizontal and vertical channels. The total power, however, is unchanged. These radars have been in place since the 1990s, and they are the same radars that are located throughout the country.

          I am a radar meteorologist, so this is what I do. There is no evidence that radars can cause earthquakes. EM energy from a WSR-88D that is scattered back to earth (or that “hits” the earth under super-refractive conditions) is absorbed and/or scattered by a very shallow layer of earth. What is the physical mechanism by which this small amount of power can cause earthquakes that originate 4-5 km below ground?

          • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

            In Norman, you have one WSR-88D(KCRI) and three additional radars. You have a TDWR in Oklahoma City and 2-4 more radars at the aeronautical center (possibly TDWR). Additional WSR-88Ds are KTLX, KVNX, KINX and another TDWR in Tulsa. That is more radars than almost anywhere I have researched that is non-military.

            The energy decreases because it is getting absorbed by the atmosphere. The atmosphere is a weakly ionized plasma (not just air and water vapor)
            http://epsppd.epfl.ch/London/pdf/P4_062.pdf

            It is not just thermal agitation, it is ionized plasma

            Stop talking average. instaneous is huge and the average builds up in the atmosphere over time as ionized plasma, not just heat.

            The Dopplers are perturbing the jet stream by adding ionization energy over time. Jet Streams are linked to Earthquakes

            http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009AGUFM.U23C0056W

            And I have linked them to an increase in algae blooms, fish kills, waterspouts and sinkholes in Florida. BTW that is a few hundred thousand dead fish near the Dopplers in Melbourne, FL

            http://sdsimonson.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/11-4-13-florida.png

            http://sdsimonson.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/11-18-13-florida.png

            Your Dopplers have us all in an easy bake microwave oven from the overhead atmosphere. Many of your citizens are hearing booms in the sky. Neither MIT or Lincoln Labs performed any short/long term biological studies that I can find. They rushed the TDWRs in to assist with airport accidents.

          • SeeYaLaterAlligator

            OK, last post because it’s apparent that nothing I say will affect your opinion on this matter. You have not posited a single physical method by which radars can cause EQs. You listed radars in Oklahoma (TDWRs near OKC and TUL and WSR88Ds in FDR, TLX, VNX, INX) but this density isn’t particularly high relative to some other areas of the country. For example, if we look to the south in Texas and consider only the eastern part of the state, there are four total TDWRs in the DFW and Houston areas (TDFW, TDAL, TIAH, and THOU) and a bunch of WSR88Ds (KFWS, KDYX, KDFX, KCRP, KBRO, KEWX, KGRK, KHGX, etc.). If we go over towards Washington DC, there are four TDWRs in a 20 mile radius of DC (TDCA, TADW, TBWI, and TIAD) as well as a number of WSR88Ds. We do have a number of test radars around Norman that operate sometimes with irregular schedules (KOUN, the PAR, and KCRI being examples), but there are other test radars at other universities and facilities as well.

            I’ll just say this — weather radars do not affect the jet stream. A scale analysis of the forces involved in the jet stream and in radar technology (e.g., the pressure gradient force, the Coriolis force, the centrifugal force, etc., vs. the electromagnetic attraction of particles caused by a 10 cm wavelength weather radar) would easily show this. Asserting that there is an effect is incorrect.

            For others who are reading this, take comfort in knowing that there there is no valid, peer-reviewed research in the literature that supports the notion that the weather radars in use today can cause EQs. I still don’t know why we’re talking about radars when there is research supporting the link between EQs and a much more obvious and physically-connected mechanism (high-pressure fluid injection, fracking, drilling, etc.).

          • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

            Single Method: Increase of ionized plasma energy in overhead jet streams due to pulsed Doppler Energy. That energy is in turn discharging to Earth and inducing Earthquakes, like the ionized heating over the Japan Earthquake zone

            http://www.technologyreview.com/view/424033/atmosphere-above-japan-heated-rapidly-before-m9-earthquake/

            OK? Simple Enough?

            I am tracking an increase in fish kills and large sinkholes around most of those areas you listed, including Alaska

            The fact is, over the same 25 years since America’s addiction to Doppler radar, our bees are disappearing, bats are disappearing, autism has increased 800% in places, persistant algae blooms have increased, star fish are dissolving on the west coast, melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer are increasing and you guys have had more mesovortex events and earthquakes in Oklahoma City recently with the highest local concentration of Dopplers.

            I predict if you turn them off your Earthquakes will reduce and weather will improve. Believe what you want, I am just sharing information

          • SeeYaLaterAlligator

            Your link talks about how stresses from the impending massive EQ caused some changes in the atmosphere and does not discuss in any way how weather radars can cause EQs. In addition, it says nothing about how radars affect the the jet streak. I’ll say it again — the forces that affect the jet stream are much, much, much stronger than the forces on that same air from the weather radar network.

            The rest of your comment falls under “correlation does not imply causation”. Sure, all sorts of things have changed in the past 25 years. There are more cell phones now than ever. We don’t use dial-up modems any more. There are more college students enrolled in for-profit schools than ever before. There are more all-electric vehicles on the road than ever before. There are more WalMarts, LCD televisions, satellite radio units, skinny-cut jeans, and Crocs shoes now than there were 25 years ago. I eat more bananas now than I did 25 years ago. All of these are correlated to varying extents to the comments you made regarding bees, bats, autism, etc. Not surprisingly, many other western countries with very poor (or no) radar networks are seeing similar events.

          • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

            I was showing you the relationship, that study was speculative to the cause of the heating atmosphere

            I just told you how Dopplers do it. MWs of Doppler energy emitted 24/7 does not just disappear, it accumulates in the atmosphere. Multiple that by 6 or 7 in Oklahoma City. Do an energy balance over a month, don’t use kw’s, use kwhrs. The atmosphere acts as a capacitor and discharges to the Earth as a battery. The atmosphere is an ionized plasma, lightning jumps out of it, remember? I sent you the paper.

            Actually, South Korea has the largest Autism incident rate at 1/38 children and the highest weather/military Doppler Radar concentration. Cuba just got their first Doppler installation in 2012 and has had one of the lowest rates.

            So no you are making up a bunch of crap when you have not studied it for the past year like I have. Here is another plot of Florida for you: >80% of fish kills, sinkholes, waterspouts are clustered with 50 miles of Doppler towers. They get sinkholes and waterspouts, not earthquakes and tornadoes like you guys.

            http://sdsimonson.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/11-20-13-florida.jpg

            Would you leave your microwave oven door at home while you are cooking? That is only a few hundred watts.

            Later Doppler Dude.

          • SeeYaLaterAlligator

            A WSR88D radar does not emit MWs of energy. I was incorrect before — the duty cycle of the WSR88d is 0.002, not 0.01. This means that the average power is even lower. I’m using average power because the radar transmits a 1-4 microsecond (0.000001-0.000004 second) pulse approximately 400-1100 times per second. So, the amount of power transmitted over a 1 second time is much, much less than a megawatt!

            I haven’t studied this for the past year like you have — I’ve studied this for a decade. I have a B.S., M.S., and PhD in meteorology, and the entirety of my graduate study was on weather radar. Believe me, if “radar caused tornadoes”, my graduate research would have been a lot easier since I would have had a lot more cases available for study!

          • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

            You have studied the impact of Doppler on Biology and the Environment for the past 10 Years? Where can I find the results? Because I see no biological studies or environmental studies from the 1980′s or 1990′s when they installed all of these.

            If you average the power of Mike Tyson’s fist over 1 minute it will not knock you out, unfortunately it does not work that way. He knocks you out in a fraction of a second. Also, the atmosphere is an accumulator and discharger of energy, not an averager. If it was an averager, we would not get concentrated storm fronts. You are sending instantaneous pulses of 750,000 watts of polarized, penetrating radiation through the atmosphere and objects on the ground, which you consider “ground clutter”. When you take 5-7 doppler weather/military radar stations in an area and overlap them you get megawatts.of instantaneous pulses of energy, all being gradually accumulated in the atmosphere (the energy does not just disappear)

            Would you stick your head or your child’s in your klystron activated microwave oven at home for the same 0.000004 second pulse duty cycle for a day? The power is MUCH less than Doppler, Answer that one question for me?

            I like it when people start throwing out initials and pedigrees, I graduated valedictorian and with high distinction and high honors in chemical engineering and I coach my kids baseball team, so what? I also know from 26 years of power system design what an accumulator does, what vacuum condensing and what ionizing radiation looks like and can do.

            I know that if you penetrate water with ionizing radiation you can ionize the dissolved oxygen from the water and form phosphates and nitrates and trigger blooms and hypoxic conditions, just like seen during El Nino and around Doppler Stations during blooms and fish kills.

            I know if you penetrate and weakly ionize biology you can get mutations like in Autism and cancers.

            I know if you increase the ionization energy of the atmosphere it has to discharge that energy somewhere, somehow.

            I know that in a State as big as Alaska, the starfish are wasting/dissolving 3 miles from the PACG Doppler Tower in Sitka. I know that in 2013 the two largest fish kills occured near the same PACG Doppler and PAPD in Fairbanks

            I know that in California, starfish are dissolving on the beach around Pillar Point Air Station, with 7 high powered Military/Dopplers.

            I know that in California, the largest number of autism clusters occured in a triangle between 3 doppler towers and one military doppler installation

            I know that in 1995-1997 the autism rate spiked in children in Minnesota in a county overlapped by two newly installed NEXRAD towers KMPX & KARX started up in the same time period

            I know that the Neuse river in North Carolina, which is very close to the KMHX Doppler tower is having repeat fish kills this year.

            I know that in 2012, just a few months after upgrading the KMLB Doppler station to dual pol, the lagoon turned brown, plantlife began dying, manatees, dolphins and pelicans began dying and tens of thousands of fish off the gulf stream are dying.

            If you really seek to know what the atmosphere contains and what triggers waterspouts and mesovortex events, look here.

            http://sdsimonson.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/dbrane-r2-316079-image01311.jpg

            With all of your initials, maybe you can convince them during a week of clear skies, to turn off all of the local doppler radars for a test. I will pay you for your time

            Godspeed

          • betty

            ChemE Stewart:….You are right of course….people in Oklahoma cannot deal with the reality of their shitty state, especially with crackpots like James Inhofe filling their
            heads with unscientific crackpot theories that they buy 100%!

        • Hobie

          I thought you said we shouldn’t cross the ray-beams.

          • http://darkmattersalot.com/ ChemE Stewart

            I did…You are overlapping fifteen or so high powered, pulsed microwave beams 24/7 from all of those FAA and Weather radars. Did you know there are numerous studies now showing that 2-6 GHz microwave radiation is BAD for biology?
            Ghostbusters would be proud of you guys

  • John McCroskey

    I’ll bill Chesapeake and Devon if my home is damaged, but it will be largely symbolic. It’s unfortunate that those greedy mother fuckers have the state legislature in their pocket, but I suppose it’s the same everywhere these days, just depending on the industry one’s state relies upon for fiscal solvency.

  • Collette Lemons

    Fracking has been going on for a long time and in areas that are not seeing earth quakes. Not saying it is not a part of it – just saying it is not all of it.

    I think part of it can be blamed on drought and the lowering of the water tables in a state made of clay. We have had several summers of very hot weather with little rain and our water consumption grows. Look how low the water levels in the lakes are.

    When clay dries it gets smaller, when it gets wet again it expands – potholes are a great example. When you have this going on and fault lines …

    Maybe it’s a mixture of all three things, the Doppler, drought and fracking….

  • Terry F.

    So my family has to absorb the risks by adding earthquake insurance coverage for the last 4 years. That means, a citizen,I am paying for the risks that the frackers are getting tax breaks for. My house is being subjected to structural stress but that appears to be my problem. Frackers should have to fund an earthdquake risk pool before they are granted a license to operate.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education