The devastation in Mexico City, among other parts of the country, was eye opening to many Californians.
California earthquake insurance still isn’t all that popular, but the Mexican quakes have generated a marked increase in interest.
Only the minority of people in the state carry earthquake insurance policies due to the high premiums.
The last major tremor that affected Los Angeles was 23 years ago. At that time, a 6.7 magnitude quake struck Northridge, killing 57 people, injuring hundreds and causing an estimated $44 billion in property damage. Since that time, the number of houses, the price of homes and the number of renters have skyrocketed. Still, the number of homeowners with California earthquake insurance coverage has not only failed to rise, but it has actually experienced a sharp decline.
That said, the recent quakes in Mexico have raised the interest in California earthquake insurance again.
The earthquake and the number of deaths and catastrophic destruction it caused in Mexico reminded many Californians of the risk they are also facing. The area is overdue for another major quake. The U.S. Geological Survey has already issued warnings to Californians that devastating quakes are very likely to be on their way during coming decades. Recent papers have pointed to risks that the ground will shake under the feet, homes and businesses of millions of people in the L.A. area.
The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) noted a rise in visits to its website and the number of phone calls it has received. The CEA, said its spokesperson Sarah Sol, was created following the Northridge quake in 1994, to offer a central location for Californians to inform themselves regarding earthquake insurance policies as well as to purchase one from a member insurer.
Though September sales figures have not yet been tallied, Sol said “callers were asking for detailed information about earthquake insurance coverage.”
By the close of 2016, California earthquake insurance covers only 10.8 percent of properties with homeowners insurance in the state. This is a striking reduction from the proportion of covered homes back when the Northridge quake occurred. At that time, January 17, 1993, 33 percent of insured homes also had earthquake coverage, say California Department of Insurance figures.