Earthquake Alert

Earthquake insurance: Good investment, or waste of money?

More Californians considering quake insurace

Earthquake insurance: Wise investment, o

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - You hear it frequently, scientists saying the "big one" could hit Southern California at any time.

Its an ominous warning, especially here in the Coachella Valley, where fault lines are active, including the major fault featured in the film "San Andreas".

Despite the likelihood of a major quake, with the potential to cause significant damage, less than ten percent California homeowners have earthquake insurance, according to "California Earthquake Authority", also known as the CEA.  

For many years, those who have opted to go without, have cited the cost.

"Its like life insurance.  You don't buy life insurance expecting to pass away.  You buy life insurance in case you do.  Its the same with earthquake insurance.  You are protecting your investment in the event that the earthquake is going to happen," said Kristy Glenn, owner of Palm Desert Insurance.

In good news for people who want to insure against quakes, the CEA recently reduced the cost of its rates by about 50 percent.

The agency made the move after a study showed it could do so, by spreading out the risk across a greater number of homeowners.

80 percent of the quake policies purchased in California are sold by the CEA, in partnership with several major insurance companies.

Last year, because of the lower rates, and more coverage options, the number of new polices purchased by Californian's was up by nearly 7 hundred percent compared to 2015, according to numbers provided by California Earthquake Authority CEO, Glenn Pomeroy.

"Without a seperate earthquake insurance policy, someone is taking on all the risk themselves.  Maybe they are okay with that.  Maybe they have the financial resources to lose their home, and go about their life.  Maybe they don't," said Pomeroy.  

How much does a  policy cost?

To give you an example, consider a home in the Palm Desert zip code of 92211, built in 2000, with a slab foundation and frame construction, with coverage at $300,000, and a 15 percent deductible.

The annual premium for a CEA policy is $752.

Dayna Smith, who lives in Palm Desert, pays $800 a year for her coverage.

"Initially my thoughts were that earthquake insurance was really expensive, and I really hadn't even considered getting it before.  Knowing now that we live on a fault line here in the Coachella Valley, and earthquakes are becoming more prominent, I decided to take a look and see how much an earthquake insurance would cost and I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it was," said Smith.

If you are deciding whether to purchase quake insurance, there is an important prediction to keep in mind.

The US Geological Survey says there is a 93 percent chance Southern California will experience a quake of 6.7 magnitude or greater sometime in the next 30 years.

The Northridge quake in 1994 was a 6.7, and it caused an estimated $20 billion in damage, with homes accounting for about half the losses.

The California Earthquake Authority offers an online "premium calculator" that you can use to figure out what it would cost to insure your home.


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