Azle, Texas has been in the north Texas news a lot lately. The reason is earthquakes. In the past 12 months, the residents of Azle have experienced 33 earthquakes, with 30 of them happening since November. The quakes have registered anywhere from a 2.1 to a 3.7 on the Richter scale. Mineral Wells, a town to the west of Azle, has experienced 3 earthquakes within the same time period. Most residents blame fracking, a practice of injecting a mixture of chemicals and water into the ground at high pressure. This process allows oil and gas companies to capture oil and gas deposits trapped within shale rock.
There has been no definitive link between fracking and the earthquake activity in and around Azle, Mineral Wells, Reno, and other towns west of Fort Worth. Residents of Azle have met with members of the Texas Railroad Commission. While the commission has not provided any definitive answers, the US Geological Survey conducted an initial study in cooperation with colleagues at Southern Methodist University. In addition, the USGS shipped 5 seismographers to SMU which were installed in Azle and the surrounding areas. The installation of the seismographers is to help the USGS and SMU team more accurately pinpoint where the quakes are occurring.
The USGS has not completed its study yet, but they are narrowing in where the quakes are occurring; between the towns of Reno and Briar, Texas. The cause has yet to be determined. They could be naturally occurring, or they could be the result of fracking or injecting waste water material into wells located beneath groundwater supplies.
There’s an interesting dilemma here that’s related to Texas home insurance policies: no one’s home policy, regardless of insurance company, covers earthquake damage. This means any damage caused by an earthquake that is measurable on the Richter scale is not covered by the home owner’s insurance policy. There’s no coverage for cracks that occur to the interior walls and sheet rock, nor to the brick veneer exterior walls, slab cracks, objects that fall inside the home and that are damaged, nor any water leaks that occur within or below the slab foundation. None of these items are covered by a standard home insurance policy.
In order for these items to be covered, the home owner would need to purchase optional earthquake coverage. Some insurance companies do not offer earthquake coverage at all, while others do offer earthquake coverage either as a standalone policy (similar to a flood policy) or as optional coverage through an endorsement to the home insurance policy. The three main components of earthquake coverage are:
- Loss of Use
Property coverage is strictly designed to repair or rebuild the home when damage occurs do to measurable seismic activity. Contents coverage protects the furniture, appliances, electronic equipment, etc. that is damaged. Loss of use is designed to protect the family financially if they need to rent a place to live while their home is being repaired or rebuilt.
Not everyone needs this earthquake coverage, however, for our clients who live in western Tarrant County as well as in areas west of there, I’ve begun to recommend they at least consider it. It’s pretty disheartening to buy a home and see it damaged by something that’s not covered by the home insurance policy. This puts the burden for repairs and the cost for those repairs on the home owner and not everyone can do that.
What do you think? Share your questions, comments, and experiences with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!