Canadian Underwriter

Adjuster reacts to B.C. earthquake

July 24, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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The earthquake earlier this week off the coast of Vancouver Island does not seem to have caused any insured property losses, but the industry is nonetheless encouraging all British Columbians to be prepared in any case for a large disaster.

“As far as I know, and in speaking to other adjusters, we have not had any reports of claims as a result of the one off Tofino,” said Debbie Halstead, Vancouver Island Manager at Kernaghan Adjusters, in an interview Friday with Canadian Underwriter.

She was referring to an earthquake reported of the B.C. coast at 4:33 a.m. Pacific Time July 22. Earthquakes Canada reports that quake measured 5.1 on the Richter Scale with its epicentre in the Pacific Ocean about 443 kilometres west of Victoria. No damage would normally be expected, said Earthquakes Canada.

That came about five hours after a 7.8-magnitude quake struck just south of the Aleutian Islands. The United States Geological Survey reports the larger quake was centred about 871 kilometres north northeast of Eagle, Alaska.

“They did put out a tsunami warning and quickly drew that back because there were no damaging waves as a result of that one,” Halstead said of the 7.8 quake near Alaska.

“We had four earthquakes in the past 30 days, and there have been 45 earthquakes in the past year, so we don’t really stand up and pay a lot of attention when they make reports of earthquakes, because we have not had any earthquakes for a long time that have caused any damage to Vancouver Island,” said Halstead, who works near Comox on the east side of Vancouver Island.

But the industry is still preparing in case a much larger quake does cause damage. “We do certainly try to drill into everybody the emergency preparedness plans, especially on Vancouver Island,” she said.

In 2013, AIR Worldwide released a report entitled, Study of Impact and the Insurance and Economic Cost of a Major Earthquake in British Columbia and Ontario/Quebec, commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

At the time, AIR said if a Magnitude 9 quake were to strike off the west coast of B.C. (similar to one that hit in 1700), there could be $34.979 billion in direct losses to commercial and industrial property, and another $24.46 billion in direct losses to residential property.

“It would be a good if everybody on the West Coast was 100% prepared,” said Halstead. “I think everybody is trying to work towards that. Unfortunately, what usually happens is, until we are hit with something that does cause significant damage, and that makes everybody sit up and take notice, it’s kind of business as usual.”

Everyone in B.C. is encouraged to keep an emergency preparedness kit at home, at work and in their vehicles, said Halstead.

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