Over the past decade, tsunamis have devastated countries around the world. From a terrifying tsunami striking Thailand to significant damage and loss of life in Japan and Indonesia, tsunamis are responsible for billions of dollars in lost property and thousands of deaths. Californians may wonder if they are adequately protected against tsunamis and may seek out specialized tsunami insurance to cover their properties against loss. In this guide, we’ll look at insurance options for natural disasters, including the frightening prospect of tsunami damage.
What is a Tsunami?
A tsunami is a wave or set of waves generated by large-volume displacement of ocean water, typically occurring as a result of an undersea earthquake or other seismic activity. Waves in excess of 60 to 80 feet can be generated, inundating coastal areas with flooding that both destroys property and causes death. In 2004, a tsunami generated in the Indian Ocean by an earthquake in Sumatra was responsible for the deaths of over 230,000 people in 14 different countries bordering the Indian Ocean. In 2018, an earthquake and tsunami hit the country of Indonesia, with thousands of lives lost as a result.
Is There Tsunami Insurance?
The answer to this common insurance question is “yes and no”. In simple terms, there is no specific tsunami insurance policy, but that doesn’t mean insurance solutions aren’t available for this natural disaster risk. In fact, a combination of insurance policy coverages can help property owners address the risks of extreme natural disasters. In California, earthquake insurance is available for property owners; California sits atop an active seismic area and the potential for devastating earthquakes is ever-present. Unfortunately, less than 12 percent of all property owners in California have purchased earthquake insurance.
Earthquake insurance protects against certain natural disasters, but tsunami damage typically comes from extreme flooding events, and this insurance typically does not protect against that risk. To supplement other types of insurance policies, homeowners in coastal areas prone to flooding may purchase flood insurance. Administered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), federal law considers tsunamis to be one of the covered flooding events in this insurance program. So, while there is no specific tsunami insurance policy, the combination of earthquake and flood insurance more than adequately serves as tsunami insurance, protecting the valuable property investments of homeowners across the state of California.
Excess Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is typically available through FEMA, but several insurance companies in the state of California offer flood insurance policies as well. Under the NFIP insurance plan, maximum coverage amounts may not cover one’s property adequately. NFIP insurance coverage maximums are $110,000 for property losses inside the home and $250,000 for the structure of the home itself. For homeowners who may find these maximums insufficient to protect property, an enhanced insurance option exits. This option is called Excess Flood Insurance. Excess insurance can add valuable protection to the maximums available in federally-backed flood insurance plans.
Contact Your Insurance Agency for Tsunami Protection
Earthquakes and tsunamis can strike at any time, often with little or no advanced warning. Property owners throughout California have insurance options to protect against these natural disasters. For tsunami insurance protection, speak to your local insurance agency today for information about policy and coverage options.