Insurance Commissioner Jones Strongly Urges Earthquake Preparedness for Californians
News: 2011 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today marked the 105th Anniversary of the historic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 by calling on Californians to update their preparedness plans and carefully assess whether they have a need for earthquake insurance. Based on a recent data call by the California Department of Insurance (CDI), almost 90 percent of homeowners and renters do not have earthquake insurance.
"With today being the 105th Anniversary of the Great Quake in San Francisco, I felt compelled to remind all consumers of the serious need for preparation before disaster strikes," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "The tragic earthquake that struck Japan last month showed us, yet again, that disaster can strike at anytime, in any place, and typically when we least expect it. This reality underscores the importance for Californians to take some very simple, but very effective precautionary steps before it is too late."
To find important information about preparing for a disaster, please visit the web site of the California Department of Insurance 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, and is more susceptible to earthquake damage such as older or multi-story homes, or homes on soft soil or a slope.
- 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.
Most homeowners' and renters' policies do not cover damage from earthquakes. Under California law all insurers selling residential property insurance are required to also offer earthquake coverage subject to minimum dwelling, personal property and additional living expense limits. Dwellings must be covered but other structures such as outbuildings, swimming pools, and masonry fences may be excluded.
The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) was formed to provide earthquake insurance to residential property owners including homeowners, individual condominium unit owners, mobile homeowners, and renters. Currently, insurance companies participating in the CEA underwrite more than 70 percent of the residential property insurance sold in California. It is important to note that consumers cannot purchase a CEA policy unless their current insurer belongs to the CEA, while those insurers that are not part of the CEA can sell consumers their own policy. Both the CEA, and insurers not in the CEA, may offer coverage beyond the minimum limits required in statute.
For more information, go to www.earthquakeauthority.com.
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 www.insurance.ca.gov. 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.