Updated January 7, 2016
Conventional wisdom says this question is rhetorical. After all, Kansas is in the middle of Tornado Alley, not earthquake territory, right?
For years, earthquakes were rare in Kansas and Oklahoma, but there have been enough in the past few years that some Kansans are adding earthquake coverage to their homeowers insurance policies.
Most of the shaking we've felt in Wichita and the surrounding areas lately is from earthquake activity in northern Oklahoma. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there were 585 quakes measured at a magnitude of at least 3.0 in Oklahoma in 2014. In 2015, Oklahoma overtook California for the number of 3.0 or higher earthquakes in a year, with more than 800.
Kansas experiences some shakes too, thanks to the Humboldt Fault Zone, which runs north and south through our state. The frequency of these quakes has increased in recent years, from 19 total between 1990 and 2010, to 126 in 2014 alone. In 2015, the Kansas Geological Survey reports there were 163 quakes in Kansas. The state's strongest earthquake in recent years was a 4.8 magnitude on November 12, 2014, and the largest earthquake ever recorded in Kansas was a 5.1 in Manhattan in 1867.
There is much speculation and research into the cause of the increased frequency, particulary in regard to fracking in the oil industry in Kansas and Oklahoma, and the injection of saltwater waste into the ground as part of the process. Regardless of the reason, home and business owners in the area are being forced to deal with the unpredictability of earthquakes, and the worry that they could cause property and structural damage.
Of course, this decision is entirely up to you, but insurance can give you peace of mind that your home and valuables will be covered in the event of a natural disaster. While the likelihood of a catastrophe may be low, if you're a homeowner in South Central Kansas, it's a good idea to at least consider adding earthquake coverage to your home's insurance policy.
Fortunately, earthquake insurance is affordable here, because insurance carriers haven't had to pay out for losses due to quakes. Some insurance companies have been quoted at prices as low as $40 - $50 per year for a $100,000 home, with deductibles of 5% or less of the coverage amount. Check with your insurance agent for a quote, as prices may vary. Also, keep in mind there may be a waiting period after a quake before a home can be insured.
A final note: Some Kansas insurance agents recommended earthquake insurance even before the increased seismic activity in the area because it's relatively inexpensive, so check your current policy to see if you're already covered.