Southern California Earthquake Risk Increases; Most Homeowners Uninsured

A sudden flurry of minor earthquakes at the tip of the San Andreas Fault has seismologists worried that the “Big One” could be triggered, the Los Angeles Times reports. In any given week, the normal risk of a major quake that would cause homeowners and commercial property owners in Greater Los Angeles to lose their properties is about 1 in 6,000, scientists estimate. This week’s swarm of quakes dramatically increases the risk of a major (7.0+) quake occurring within 7 days to as low as 1 chance in 100. Read the Los Angeles Times article here.

 

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Despite the annual warning notices that insurance companies mail to homeowners, most property owners have let their earthquake insurance policies lapse or have never purchased coverage, and would lose their home or business if an earthquake levels it. For the past decade, there have been few options to purchase earthquake insurance, and policies came with such high deductibles (15%) that homeowners were discouraged and opted to forgo coverage and take the risk.

In recent months, new earthquake insurance policies have become available with improved coverage.

Under the previous offerings, a 15% deductible meant that a home insured for $500,000 had to sustain at least $75,000 in damage for the policy to pay a claim; faced with the thought of having to pay the first 15% of their home’s insured value, many homeowner preferred to ignore the risk altogether.

(Notice that fine point: the earthquake deductible applies to a % of the insured value, not a % of the damage.) For example, if an earthquake hits a home insured for $500,000, and the earthquake causes minor cracking of the foundation and walls, and also results in water damage from a burst pipe, and that damage costs $100,000 to repair, the claim would be settled like this:

$100,000 repair cost – (15% x $500,000 insured value) = $25,000 claim payout.

New Earthquake Insurance Policies are closing the gaps in coverage that older policies contain.

The new earthquake insurance policies now offer lower deductible options: 5% or 10%. That means that homeowners can sleep better at night! It’s much more comforting to know that your earthquake insurance policy will pay the cost to rebuild or repair your house in the event of an earthquake without having to take a out a loan to cover the policy’s deductible.

In addition, some of the new earthquake policies now include substantial coverage for swimming pools, walkways, driveways, patios, and retaining walls. Most earthquake policies limit coverage on those items to just $3,000 or so. Clearly, $3,000 would not be sufficient to replace a swimming pool or a lot of paving/decking. The new policy options can take care of those items, too, if you are careful to purchase a policy that specifically provides that coverage.

For advice and help obtaining earthquake coverage for yourself or your business, contact Jonathan Edewards at Citrust Insurance at 626-765-4495 or GetHelp@Edewards.com.

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For advice and help obtaining earthquake coverage for yourself or your business, contact Jonathan Edewards at Citrust Insurance at 626-765-4495 or GetHelp@Edewards.com.

 

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