St. Louis Public Radio News
9:59 am
Mon December 22, 2008

Earthquake Insurance Task Force makes recommendations for Mo.

Jefferson City, MO – A state task force is recommending that Missouri insurance regulators collect more data on earthquake coverage.

The chances of a magnitude 6.0 or higher earthquake in Missouri range between 25 and 40 percent over the next 50 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Memphis.

Mark Doerner is Legislative Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Insurance.

"What the suggestion was, was that for new construction, that we try to build buildings up to the modern standards of the international building code," Doerner said.

The task force was appointed by Governor Matt Blunt, who leaves office next month.

The greatest earthquake threat is in Southeast Missouri, along the New Madrid Fault. But significant damage is also possible along the Mississippi River Basin, which includes St. Louis.

"When there's an earthquake, wet, sandy soil tends to turn liquid, and it no longer has the ability to support a heavy structure on top of it, and so those structures tend to sink into the soil," Doerner said.

Insurance regulators are being urged to collect information on deductible levels and on the amount of earthquake insurance coverage provided by county and farm mutual companies.

Doerner also says that not having damaging earthquakes on a regular basis makes it hard to raise people's awareness.