The recent large earthquakes in Southern California are a reminder to always be earthquake-ready.
Earthquakes come on suddenly, with very little warning. They can be a sharp jolt followed by the ground shaking and cracking, or waves rolling across the ground.
Earthquakes can hit anywhere at any time, and while the West Coast is considered “earthquake country,” the U.S. Geological Survey warns that earthquakes have been registered in every state in the union, with special seismic hazards for areas encompassing the western-third of the nation, and areas extending from Missouri and Illinois to most of the Eastern Seaboard.
After an earthquake strikes many are often left disoriented and full of adrenaline –psyche and security shaken as much as their house. Post-quake your home or apartment may look damage-free, but there can be many hidden dangers.
After checking your family and others for injuries, here are key steps you need to take to ensure your safety:
Check for gas and water line leaks. Know where the shutoff valves are if you smell gas or detect water leaking to prevent fires and water damage.
Be aware of downed power lines.They can still carry a dangerous current.
Inspect chimneys and brick areas for cracks. If cracked, they could send dangerous debris down on you or others.
Check water heater and furnace vents. If they have become separated, it could send dangerous carbon monoxide into the home.
Watch for electrical sparking or the smell of burning wire insulation. This could lead to a fire. Unplug any broken lights or appliances and turn off power at the main fuse box if you detect an issue.
Clean up spilled medicines, drugs or harmful chemicals. Bleach, turpentine, hazardous garden supplies, etc.
Don’t drink from faucets or other unprotected water sources. Wait until given the okay from your municipality or utility, because they could be contaminated.
Always Plan Ahead
Before an earthquake, or other natural disaster hits, you should always have a plan. Here are some tips to help you and your family prepare:
Develop a family communication plan and “meet-up” location if you become separated
Have your first aid kit fully stocked
Prepare an emergency kit with: water, medicines, food, money, other important documents, etc.
Have basic emergency supplies gathered all in one place: flash lights, batteries, blankets, a radio, lighters or matches, cell phone chargers, extra clothes
Be sure to have coverage insurance.
If you havecomprehensive coveragewith your auto insurance, your vehicle is covered for damage from falling debris and other impacts from earthquakes.
However, earthquake damage is not covered under your homeowners or renters insurance policy, and less than 20% of Americans have purchased a policy. That means most people whose property suffers losses from a temblor will be paying out of pocket or relying on federal assistance and loans for recovery.
You can be prepared; California Casualty provides earthquake insurance as an endorsement to home owners policies in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Rhode Island. We also offer earthquake coverage through our partner, GeoVera Insurance Company, in California, Oregon and Washington. Learn more and get a quote at 877.652.2638 or visit www.calcas.com/earthquake-insurance.
Ask anyone who has experienced a large earthquake; the experience is not fun. Walls shake, the earth rolls, and you have no control over what might happen for the next few seconds – or up to a minute – as the roller coaster continues. Californians are more aware after the recent temblor in Napa.
Now, there is more concern as the U.S. Geological Survey has expanded their maps of earthquake prone areas. The new mapping shows 42 states now facing a reasonable chance of a damaging quake within 50 years, with 16 sates facing a high risk of damaging ground movement. Those high risk states are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Prepare an emergency kit, have an evacuation plan and determine how your family will communicate
Fasten shelves securely to walls
Make sure large or heavy items are on lower shelves and breakable items like bottles, glass and china are stored in low, closed cabinets with latches
Repair defective electrical wiring or leaky gas connections and install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks
Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall
Hold earthquake drills with your entire family
Safety is paramount after the shaking has subsided. The American Red Cross has a checklist of does and don’ts following an earthquake that include:
Turn off water and gas main-lines to your dwelling
Stay away from downed power lines and damaged structures
Extinguish small fires
Clean up spilled medications, bleach or other dangerous liquids
Monitor updates with battery powered or hand-crank radios
Offer help to those who might be trapped or need special assistance.
Once you are in a safe place, contact your insurance company. Keep in mind that earthquake damage is not a part of most people’s home insurance policy; separate earthquake coverage needs to be purchased. Earthquake insurance is available as an endorsement to California Casualty homeowners in California, Oregon, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Rhode Island and California Casualty has partnered with GeoVera to underwrite earthquake insurance for homeowners in California, Oregon and Washington. If you need earthquake protection, call a California Casualty advisor today at 1.800.800.9410.
Today, an 8.9-magnitude quake struck Japan, causing widespread devastation and setting off a chain of tsunamis that are affecting coastlines as far away as California. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those whose lives have been turned upside-down by this historic disaster.
When things like this occur – it’s important that we remind ourselves of steps to take in the face of disaster.
– Identify hazards such as heavy items that aren’t secured, and repair them
– Create a disaster plan
– Prepare disaster kits that contain first aid items and fresh water
– Identify building weaknesses and repair them
– Drop, Cover, and Hold on
– After an earthquake, check for injuries and damage
– Follow your disaster plan
In many areas, a major safety concern is the ongoing threat of earthquakes. While they can’t be avoided, it is possible to take steps to mitigate the damage from these occurrences.
As part of our commitment to educators, I want to share an interesting webinar offered by the Applied Technology Council. This webinar will provide more information on steps that can be taken to improve the earthquake safety of schools. It may be a little too scientific for some, but I thought it would be of interest to some folks out there!
Here’s more info:
Numerous school buildings located in multiple States and U.S. territories are vulnerable to earthquake losses and damage. This includes potential:
• Death and injury of students, teachers, and staff
• Damage to or collapse of buildings
• Damage and loss of furnishings, equipment, and building contents
• Disruption of educational programs and school operations
• Inability of the community to use schools as temporary shelters
At this webinar, you will learn the following:
• How to assess and analyze your earthquake risks
• How to develop an actionable plan to reduce and manage earthquake risks
• How to initiate an earthquake risk reduction plan for existing school buildings that were not designed and constructed to meet modern building codes
• How to secure “non-structural” elements of the school facility
• How to apply “incremental seismic rehabilitation” to protect buildings and ensure occupant safety
• Why “incremental seismic rehabilitation” is an affordable alternative for school safety
The deductible is the amount that you pay before the insurance company pays a claim. Higher deductibles mean lower payments. According to NerdWallet, you could save 20 percent by raising a $500 deductible to $1,000. If you do increase your deductible, make sure that you can cover the costs of repairs should something happen.
Ask about discounts.
You may qualify for insurance discounts for being part of a professional association, such as groups for teachers, nurses or first responders. There are also discounts for being retired, for paying via automatic bank payments, and for paying in full upfront. You may qualify for a new home discount, or a discount if you have updated your utilities (electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling) in an older home. There are discounts for a new roof and an automatic sprinkler system. You can even be rewarded for being a loyal customer.
Remove attractive nuisances.
You may be paying extra for high-risk items. These attractive nuisances are potential dangers that could attract kids and cause injuries. Examples include trampolines, swimming pools, and playground equipment. If you are willing to get rid of these items, it may lower your payments.
Skip a payment.
Some insurance companies allow you to skip payments around the holidays. At California Casualty, you have the option to skip payments in either November/December or in December/January. (You also have this option to skip in the summer.) Ask your agent for details.
Take care of minor repairs.
Your home insurance policy can take care of both major and minor damage from a covered loss. But sometimes it’s easy enough to take care of those minor repairs on your own, out-of-pocket. That way you’ll avoid filing a claim and if you remain claims-free for a period of time, that qualifies for a discount, too.
Buy home and auto insurance from the same company.
The better protected your home is, the less chance that there will be a claim. That’s why disaster-proofing and securing your home can save you in insurance premiums. To protect against disasters, consider storm shutter, impact-resistant roofing. Having a fire extinguisher could earn you a discount. For enhanced security, a burglar alarm and deadbolt locks can earn you discounts. While some of these repairs and updates are expensive, they will pay off in the long run. Remember that flood and earthquake insurance are not included in standard homeowner’s coverage. However, you can make home improvements that reduce their cost as well. Importantly, you will need a new home inspection before new rates can take effect, and you may need to pay for it.
Check your credit score.
Your credit score indicates your ability to pay your debts. Missing payments, not having a long credit history, and high credit card balances could create an unfavorable credit score. A credit score under 630 could increase your insurance rates, according to NerdWallet. You can get a free credit report once a year from the three credit agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check your score, and take actions to improve it.
In addition, in some states, you can get your credit-based insurance score, which indicates how likely you are to file an insurance claim. If you are eligible for that report, you can find it at CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) from LexisNexis
Review your insurance limits annually.
If your insurance is billed to your mortgage bank, you may not think much about your annual premiums. But it’s a good idea to review your policies annually to make sure you’re not paying for coverage that you no longer need.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
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