Earthquake is a catastrophic disaster and it can flatten even the biggest structure on Earth. In this case, we should be fully prepared to face inevitable earthquake. It should be noted the earthquake insurance is a separate coverage and can’t be combined with flood insurance. When choosing earthquake insurance plan, we should make sure that it covers indirect effects of earthquake. As an example, our home or office could be slightly damaged by the earthquake, but it could be soon destroyed by fire that spreads from other buildings. In this case, we need to make sure that the earthquake insurance also includes related fire protection. A power line may have collapsed nearby, sparking fire on dry bushes and nearby building; this is especially true on dry, earthquake-prone areas, like southern California.
Another consequence of earthquake is water damages. Violent jolts and vibration could break large pipes flooding our basement, causing significant damages to our furniture, rugs, floors and even the structure of our home. In this case, water damage should be considered as a part of earthquake damage. The most violent type of water damage is probably tsunami. There are cases where structures are virtually unscathed by an earthquake, but the onrushing sea water could flatten the whole area. Landslide is another danger caused by earthquake and it should be avoidable. If we are living near a slope, it is a good idea to make sure that our policy also includes protection against landslide.
In order to ensure lower premiums, we should make sure that our house could handle earthquake. We should inform the insurance provider of our location and the type of material under our house; fill, sand or rock. If our home construction matches specific standard, it is also possible for us to gain lower coverage. The type of construction and the age of building also affect the ability of our house to withstand earthquake. In general, our house could become more earthquake-proof, if it is build on slabs, instead of raised foundation. One-story structure is also stronger and it shakes less that multi-story ones.
Houses with unreinforced masonry structure can be more vulnerable to damages than the flexible wood-frame construction. After reaching specific age, building won’t be as strong as new ones. In this case, the type of house could affect our risk. If there are multiple one-story houses in the area, they should be tied together, with walls bolted to the foundation and roof to the walls. As a result, these houses could survive earthquakes better due to reduced shaking.
If we want to reduce premiums, our home should be significantly fortified with specific construction measures. Although our house has been protected and reinforced significantly, they could sustain some amount of damage, so an earthquake insurance policy is still required. Some areas could get plenty of smaller earthquakes and cause some cracks on the wall. In this case, we need to know whether insurers could also provide us with coverage for such small damage.
In San Diego, we get lots of smaller quakes on a regular basis. These are reminders to YOU to review your current coverages to be sure that you are adequately insured. Is your current homeowner’s insurance up to date? Will it pay to rebuild your home to current building codes? Do you have additional coverage and riders for all the new stuff yiou may have acquired since you first bought your insurance policy?
Remember, it is far more likely you will have pipes break or fires start from the smaller earthquakes. If either of these happen, you should have coverage under your regular homeowners policy. Check to make sure it is up to date and that you have enough coverage. As a result of the 2003 and 2007 wildfires, we have found that most homeowners in San Diego are underinsured.
By the way, businesses should review their policies to be sure they have EQSL – or Sprinkler Loss coverage. There is a greater chance you will suffer damage from sprinklers leaking than from a building falling down.