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UPDATE

Be prepared for disasters

January 22, 2006|From Times wire reports

John Garamendi, state insurance commissioner, last week urged homeowners to guard against financial ruin in the event of another catastrophe like the Northridge earthquake, which hit the Southland 12 years ago on Jan. 17, 1994.

"Most Californians who own homes have spent their entire lives building toward that purchase," he said in a statement. "Don't let a disaster wipe out that accomplishment and your finances in seconds. Update your insurance policies now and make sure that your coverage is adequate."

The commissioner recommended residents create or update an emergency plan to be used in the event of a disaster, such as an earthquake, fire or flood. Garamendi also urged residents to inventory their assets. A "Home Inventory Guide" is available from the agency at www.insurance.ca.gov or by calling (800) 927-HELP.

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Briefly

* Nine out of 10 home buyers still use a real estate agent in the search process, but use of the Internet to search for a home has risen dramatically over time, from 2% of buyers in 1995 to 77% in 2005, according to a consumer survey conducted by the National Assn. of Realtors. That was up slightly from 74% in 2004. The next largest source of information is the yard sign, reported 71% of buyers surveyed.

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