Recent earthquakes in Alaska and Southern California are important reminders that even though Washington state is at significant risk for a major earthquake, most homeowners don’t have earthquake coverage. Insurance agents know that earthquake coverage can help homeowners protect what is probably their biggest asset — their home — but customers often decline coverage. Today, we have good news: two new tools can help you educate and motivate customers to get covered.
The first comes from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the second from WSRB. Agents who use them together by following four simple steps are likely to have the most success.
A guide to earthquake risk for homeowners
“Washington state has one of the highest earthquake risks in the country. Preparation before a major earthquake may save your life and may also save you money.” Those are the first two sentences of “A Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquakes in Washington State,” just published by the Washington Geological Survey, a part of the DNR. Find the guide here in PDF.
The guide goes on to describe specific factors influencing a home’s earthquake-related property risk, covering both locational risks (such as ground shaking and liquefaction) and home features (such as furniture, chimneys, water heaters and foundation types). The guide explains, in a consumer-friendly way, these factors and why they matter, and includes easy-to-understand examples and illustrations.
By page five, the guide suggests homeowners consider purchasing earthquake coverage and provides a link to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s webpage on earthquake insurance.
If you’re an insurance agent, sending this guide to your homeowner policy customers could increase their interest in coverage in a general way. If you do a little additional research first, though, you could see better results.
Insurance agents have two new earthquake coverage sales tools:
one from WSRB, one from Washington state
Educating and motivating your customers to purchase earthquake coverage
The DNR’s guide focuses on four locational risks:
- Ground shaking
- Landslides and ground failures
You can find detailed information about these four risks (and more) in the WSRB Earthquake Risks tool for any address in Washington state. We’ve talked about the tool’s features in previous blog posts, so let’s talk about how you can use the tool to target customers most in need of earthquake coverage.
Step 1: Assemble the addresses of your customers with a homeowner policy into a spreadsheet and, to the right, label columns as follows:
- Distance to fault: ground shaking
- Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI): ground shaking
- Lahar presence: landslide
- Tsunami risk
Step 2: Look up the addresses of your customers in our tool (simply login to access it), and input the results for each of the factors listed above.
Step 3: Read the linked explanations for each risk factor in the tool. You’ll see these on the results page, so they’re easy to find.
Step 4: Sort the data from step 2 and contact customers at high risk of earthquake-related property damage.
We suggest focusing on customers close to a fault line with a high MMI and susceptibility to liquefaction, but the exact sorting method is up to you. What areas do you serve? If you have many coastal addresses in your book, tsunami risk is important. If you serve areas likely to be affected by a lahar, be sure to include that risk factor, too.
If you take these steps before contacting your customers, you’ll have three sales tools at your disposal: WSRB data on the customer’s individual property, information from our explanations about what that data means and the DNR’s guide. Together, these tools help you make a persuasive case to your customers to add earthquake coverage.
Have a long list of customers? Contact us about a book review
The online search tool is just the beginning; we’re in the process of building a book review tool that will allow you to simply send us a list of your customers’ addresses. We’ll send back a list with all the data added, and you can focus on educating and motivating customers.
The book review tool will launch soon. Be the first to get access to it by contacting our sales team today. As soon as the tool is available, we’ll let you know.