Across the region, many felt the magnitude 4.4 earthquake Wednesday morning in Meigs County, and one Decatur pastor believes the earthquake damaged his church.

Peakland Baptist Church is only a mile away from the earthquake's epicenter, and members immediately noticed changes to their building after the earthquake hit.                     

After any severe storm or snow, church treasurer Larry Mullins checks on the church for damage, so he did the same following the earthquake.

"He came up here yesterday morning and noticed the cracks in the ceilings. He went around looking at the outside. He called me and told me we had some structural damage," Paul Chesley, pastor of Peakland Baptist Church, said.        

The church has cracks in bricks on the outside, on the sanctuary's ceiling inside and through the mortar around concrete blocks in the basement that were not there prior to the earthquake.

The church staff is in the process of reviewing their insurance policy and working with their insurer.

"I'm not a structural engineer, so we've got the insurance company who's going to be sending somebody out to look," Chesley explained.

This inspection will officially determine if the earthquake caused the damage.

For Peakland Baptist Church and anyone in our region moving forward, it is important to know that earthquake insurance is like flood insurance. It is a separate add-on endorsement to your homeowner's or commercial insurance policy.          

You are not automatically covered, but all it takes is a simple phone call to add it.

"For consumers, it's easily added if you have a homeowner's policy or a commercial property policy. Simple phone call to your agent. Ask the right questions. What's it going to cost? What's it going to cover? How soon can I get it? Also, ask about deductible options as well,” Adam Cox, producer at Alder and Cox Insurance said.         

Cox said for most carriers, there is no waiting period to add earthquake insurance to your policy. However, make sure to check with your insurer. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners said, “if there’s been a recent earthquake, most insurers won’t sell any new earthquake insurance for 30 to 60 days.” They have more helpful information in “A Consumer’s Guide to Earthquake Insurance.”

"The claims process is exactly the same. You file the claim. They come out to your house to survey the damage. Come up with a settlement, and then you start the repairs," Cox stated.

Earthquake insurance is not commonly selected by people in our area even though we are on the East Tennessee Fault Line.

"It's just something that we don't see every day, and so there is no fear. And if there is no fear, there's no perceived risk. It doesn't keep people up at night."

If you are worried about the future, call your insurance provider to discuss options. It is up to the consumer to weigh the costs and risks and to do what makes you comfortable.     

The cost of earthquake insurance depends on how much coverage you have on your home or property and can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand.