Thurston County leads the state in residential earthquake insurance coverage, according to a new report from the state’s insurance commissioner.
More than 18 percent of insured homeowners in Thurston County have earthquake coverage, followed by 16 percent in Clark, King and Kitsap counties.
Columbia County was at the bottom of the list with less than 1 percent.
Only about 11 percent of Washington homeowners have earthquake insurance, while more than 43 percent of commercial properties in Washington have earthquake coverage.
The state has the second-highest seismic risk in the country behind California.
“Given Washington’s geologic conditions, the question is not whether a large earthquake, with the ensuing damage to lives and property, will occur; the question is when,” the report concludes.
It comes after a Seattle Times investigation into earthquake insurance in 2016 found one reason so many people go without insurance is that companies can impose steep rate increases and deny coverage.
The Bellingham Herald reported last year insurance rates have gone up as better prediction tools show an increased likelihood for earthquakes in Western Washington.
According to the state’s report, homeowners in Western Washington were more likely to be covered than those in Eastern Washington.
The report, which surveyed 240 companies that sell residential and commercial earthquake insurance, did not include information on premium costs. Insurers reported the average insured home was covered for $512,000 and deductibles were generally 10 to 15 percent of the home’s insured value.
Lawmakers are considering legislation this session to create a working group that would study ways to mitigate losses from earthquakes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters. If approved, the group would offer recommendations to the Legislature in December.