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News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: January 14, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Dave Jones Urges Californians To Update Preparedness Plans, Evaluate Need For Earthquake Insurance
January 17 Marks the 17th Anniversary of Catastrophic Northridge Quake

On January 17th 1994, the Northridge earthquake violently shook the San Fernando Valley in Southern California causing lives to be lost and wide-spread catastrophic damage. The magnitude 6.7 quake caused an estimated $15 billion dollars in damage. Based on a data call by the Department of Insurance, almost 90% of homeowners and renters do not have earthquake insurance.

"On this 17th Anniversary of the Northridge earthquake let us be reminded that we live in a region of the country that is constantly in flux," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "While it was certainly a tragic event that impacted many Californians', we must be even more prepared for the next big earthquake that scientists say may come at any time."

Get important information about preparing for a disaster from the California Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Or, call our toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP.

Earthquake preparedness includes the following:

• Review your insurance policies at least once each year with your agent or broker to ensure that they provide adequate coverage.
• Consider purchasing an earthquake policy if your home is in an earthquake-prone area, doesn't meet current building standards, or is built upon unstable ground.
• Take measures to retrofit your home to increase your safety during an earthquake.
• Brace your water heater to minimize the risks of fire and water damage caused by water heaters that topple during earthquakes.
• Bolting your home's wood frame to its foundation can prevent damage resulting from the structure sliding off its foundation. And for houses on raised foundations, the bracing of "cripple walls" can also reduce damage from earthquakes.
• Mobile home owners should use earthquake-bracing systems to reduce the chance of damage from homes slipping off support jacks.
• Fasten cupboard doors with child-proof latches to prevent them from opening and spilling their contents.
• Fasten bookcases, mirrors, televisions and other tall or heavy objects to wall studs.
• Gas appliances should have flexible attachments, and family members should be familiar with gas shut-off techniques.

For more earthquake preparedness tips, go to www.redcross.org.

Most homeowners' and renters' policies do not cover damage from earthquakes. The California Earthquake Authority was formed to provide earthquake insurance to residential property owners including homeowners, individual condominium unit owners, mobile homeowners, and renters. Under the CEA plan, the CEA member insurance company is required to offer earthquake coverage subject to the minimum dwelling and personal property. Dwellings must be covered according to the CEA policy guidelines; however, other structures such as outbuildings, swimming pools, and masonry fences are specifically excluded, as is the case with the majority of earthquake policies. The CEA has more recently offered broader coverage in response to growing claim reserves and positive reports of plan solvency. You cannot purchase earthquake coverage directly from the CEA. The CEA does not offer stand-alone earthquake policies. Only licensed California insurers who are CEA-member companies can sell CEA policies. You must have a residential property policy in-force or be purchasing a new residential property policy from a CEA member insurer in order to be offered a CEA policy. The residential insurance companies participating in the CEA currently underwrite more than 70 percent of the residential property insurance sold in California. A participating CEA company can only offer CEA policies.

For more information, go to www.earthquakeauthority.com.

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2012 the California Department of Insurance received more than 160,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $64 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Out-of-state callers, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.

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