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CA Department of Insurance

Department of Insurance Urges Californians to update preparedness plans in light of Northridge earthquake anniversary

News: 2013 Press Release

For Release: January 16, 2013
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Department of Insurance Urges Californians to update preparedness plans in light of Northridge earthquake anniversary
January 17 Marks the 19th Anniversary of Catastrophic Northridge Quake

On January 17, 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 temblor caused an estimated $15 billion dollars in damage. However, based on a data call by the Department of Insurance, almost 90 percent of homeowners and renters do not have earthquake insurance.

"On this 19th Anniversary of the Northridge earthquake we must be aware of our region's ever changing geology," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "The Northridge earthquake was a tragic event that impacted many Californians. We must be more prepared for the next big earthquake that scientists say may come at any time."

Last month, California experienced a significant earthquake off the San Diego coast. That December quake's magnitude was 6.3, and although occurring underwater, the very real threat of a tsunami or major land damage was a possibility. Scientists rated it as the biggest earthquake in 2012.

Earthquake preparedness includes the following:

  • Review your insurance policies at least once each year with your agent or broker to ensure you have 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 on 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;
  • Secure 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.

Get important information about preparing for a disaster from the California Department of Insurance website at, or call our toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP. For more earthquake preparedness tips, go to or visit

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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