Hurricane, earthquake raise insurance concerns

Raging waves batter against the shore in the seafront in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on August 23, 2011, after the passage of Hurricane Irene.

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Evacuations have already begun in North Carolina as residents leave their homes in advance of Hurricane Irene. The storm has strengthened to Category 3, and is expected to make landfall on the East Coast this weekend.

That, combined with yesterday's 5.9 earthquake has some East Coasters re-thinking their insurance options, including our own Nancy Marshall Genzer.

Nancy Marshall Genzer: OK, Mother Nature. I'm getting the message: you think I need more insurance. Specifically, of the earthquake and flood variety. Well, mother dear, my husband and I already have earthquake insurance. We felt yesterday's quake -- few pictures got knocked around -- but our house's foundation wasn't cracked or anything. So, we didn't use the earthquake insurance, this time.

Russell Watson is an independent insurance broker near me in suburban Maryland. He's only sold one earthquake insurance policy in 28 years. There's more interest now. This morning, Watson got a call from a client who was sure he had quake insurance.

Russell Watson: He said yeah, I'm sure I'm covered right? And I said, no you're not.

As far as flood insurance goes, Watson does sell it. He has to buy it through the federal government, which helps pay flood insurance claims. But Watson is telling people not to run out and buy it in a panic.

Watson: Use your own judgment. If you're on top of a hill and there's no river around you you're not going to get flooded.

Well we do live on a hill, so I guess I can hold off on flood insurance for now. Is that OK with you, Irene??

Watching the skies in Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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