The recent 19th anniversary of California’s catastrophic Northridge Quake served as an opportunity for state insurance commissioner Dave Jones to remind homeowners and renters, the vast majority of whom do not have earthquake insurance, to beef up preparedness.
On Jan. 17, 1994, the magnitude 6.7 tremblor violently shook the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, which resulted in lives lost and caused an estimated $15 billion in damage.
Despite the catastrophic toll, the California Department of Insurance reports that based on a data call it did, almost 90% of homeowners and renters do not have earthquake insurance.
“We must be aware of our region’s ever changing geology,” Jones cautioned in a statement last week, adding that it is important to be “more prepared for the next big earthquake that scientists say may come at any time.”
The department cites a 6.3 magnitude quake off the San Diego coast in December. Although occurring underwater, “the very real threat of a tsunami or major land damage was a possibility,” the statement adds.
Among other things, the department notes earthquake preparedness includes the following: reviewing insurance policies at least yearly with an agent or broker to ensure coverage is adequate; taking measures to retrofit homes to increase safety during an earthquake; bracing water heaters to minimize the risks of fire and water damage caused by water heaters that topple during quakes; bolting a home’s wood frame to its foundation in a bid to prevent damage resulting from the structure sliding off its foundation; and ensuring that gas appliances are equipped with flexible attachments.