Big Southern California Earthquakes Prompt Question: Do You Need Earthquake Insurance?

Jul 9, 2019

It was a Fourth of July Holiday weekend for the Central and South Coast no one will be forgetting soon, with nature topping the biggest fireworks shows with a reminder of the power of earthquakes. Seismologists say this is a new wakeup call for quake preparedness, ranging from securing heavy items like bookcases, to having emergency supplies on hand. It also highlights another form of preparedness: earthquake insurance.

Only about 14% of property owners in the state have it. Many people thing they are covered as part of their standard property owner’s insurance, but you aren’t.

Chris Nance is with the California Earthquake Authority. It’s a non-profit agency created to provide earthquake insurance in the state, after commercial insurers decided it was too risky.

The CEA offers the insurance through more than 20 major insurance companies in the state. Some insurance agents on the Central and South Coast say the string of quakes has spurred interest in quake insurance. State Farm Insurance Agent Irene Henry, who’s based in Ventura, says she’s had more calls in a day about quake insurance than she normally gets in a month.

The Earthquake Authority’s Chris Nance says condo owners should especially consider insurance. It’s confusing. He says while some condo complexes have insurance, that insurance doesn’t cover individual units, so they require their own policies.

The CEA insurance doesn’t pay for the market value of homes, but for estimated rebuilding costs. And, just like other forms of insurance, you can take a higher deductible. CEA officials emphasize the agency isn’t a for-profit business, but a self-sustaining fund intended to give homeowners an insurance option.