In the February 7th issue of the Seattle Times there was an article that shared the results from a study by the Insurance Commissioner that only 11.3% of households in Washington carry earthquake insurance even though Washington is considered the second highest risk in the nation for these events.
The writer stated, "Washington is vulnerable to some of the planet's most powerful subduction-zone earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as quakes on shallow faults like the one that runs under Seattle. The more people who hold earthquake insurance, the lower the financial hit from a major quake and the quicker the region will be able to bounce back."
The Cascadian Subduction Zone, which is the fault line located 70 miles off the Pacific Northwest Coastline, spanning from Northern California to Vancouver Island. If you haven't heard, the experts are saying we're 75 years overdue for an earthquake they refer to as "The Big One."
When the news media talks about the potential for a major earthquake with a magnitude of 8 to 9 on the Richter scale it provokes a lot of fear when you consider what could happen to life and property in a natural disaster like this. Hopefully in our lifetime we will not experience a quake of this size, but there have been smaller quakes - and there could be more - that still cause damage. It always helps to be prepared, just in case. According to FEMA, you should keep a basic emergency supply kit containing the following items:
- Water: one gallon of water per person per day for two weeks, for drinking and sanitation.
- Food: a two week supply of non-perishable food. A battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
- A flashlight and extra batteries.
- A first aid kit.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- A dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities. A can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
- Local maps
For more information on emergency preparedness and other survival kits, visit the FEMA website.
These kits can prepare you for the initial aftermath, but you should also have protection for both the damage that smaller quakes can cause and the need to rebuild in the event of a big quake. Did you know that most homeowners insurance policies will not cover an earthquake? You need to either have an insurance provider that will write it into your homeowners policy or find an insurance company that will provide a standalone earthquake policy. At WSECU Insurance Services, we are now able to provide you with of each of those options to help you secure earthquake protection. You can reach one of our trained insurance agents at 855.811.5331 and they will educate you on selecting a policy that will protect your assets in case of an earthquake.
While it can be unnerving to think about the risks of living in an earthquake-prone area, one good thing about these areas and their tectonic processes is that they are responsible for the interesting and beautiful topography that surrounds us. And whether it's earthquake insurance or any financial concerns you might have, we hope you'll find some peace of mind knowing we're here to help.
Todd Shobert, VP, WSECU Insurance Services