Why should Kentuckians consider earthquake insurance?
Kentucky is one of 16 states at the highest risk for earthquakes, according to the United States Geological Survey.
When you think of Kentucky, do earthquakes come to mind? Most people don't know that Kentucky is one of 16 states at the highest risk for earthquakes, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). That's because the western portion of Kentucky sits on the most active fault in the central and eastern United States (the New Madrid Seismic Zone). This zone is a source of continuing small and moderate earthquakes, and, according to experts with the USGS, it poses a significant risk "for a major destructive earthquake."
History of earthquakes in Kentucky
In the past 50 years, Kentucky has been affected by light to moderate seismic activity. The largest recorded earthquake within Kentucky’s borders occurred on July 27, 1980, with a magnitude of 5.2 and an epicenter near Sharpsburg, Ky. According to the Kentucky Geological Survey, this earthquake racked up an estimated $3 million in losses, with 269 homes and 37 businesses in the nearby town of Maysville damaged. The 2003 Bardwell earthquake in western Kentucky (magnitude 4.0) caused some minor damage in Carlisle County, as did the 2012 Perry County earthquake (magnitude 4.2).
Archives from earlier in the 19th century detail a much more devastating history with earthquakes in the commonwealth. The most significant earthquakes affecting Kentucky, as well as the entire central U.S., occurred from December 1811 to February 1812 in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. At least three large earthquakes, each estimated to have had a magnitude greater than 7.0, occurred during that short timeframe. Luckily, the state was sparsely settled at that time.
Risk by region
Geoscientists say if a major earthquake were to hit along the New Madrid fault line today, damage -- and possibly even fatalities -- could reach as far as Louisville. Earthquakes in the central or eastern U.S. affect much larger areas than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the west, according to the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC). For example, the San Francisco, Calif., earthquake of 1906 (magnitude 7.8) was felt in the middle of Nevada, 350 miles away, whereas the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 were felt all the way in Connecticut -- a whopping 1,000 miles away! This seismic reach is possible because the earth’s ground tension is much more concentrated and built up in the Midwest. Luckily for Kentuckians, the state’s building and residential codes already require construction in most areas to resist forces from natural hazards, like tornadoes, floods, and ice storms.
While Kentucky is listed as one of 16 states at the highest risk for earthquakes, some areas are substantially more susceptible than others. The state’s six westernmost counties sit in the "critical zone,” but a majority of counties (64 of 120) are only at moderate risk. Thirty-nine counties in the central part of the state are at low risk.
Check out the map below to see which area you live in.
Earthquake insurance at Kentucky Farm Bureau
Should an earthquake ever hit Kentucky, a regular homeowner’s policy written through Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance would not cover the damage. However, we’re proud to offer exceptional earthquake coverage as a registered coverholder for Lloyd’s of London, the world’s specialist in the insurance and reinsurance market. This collaboration provides KFB insureds with the sound, trusted financial backing of an international company, but with the convenience of local service. In the event of an earthquake, KFB's local claims staff would work with members to resolve their claims.
>> Interested in earthquake coverage through KFB Insurance? Click here to speak to your hometown agency.