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Earthquake Insurance

March 19, 2011
The earthquakes that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, and northern Japan in quick succession have prompted many California homeowners to bolt their houses to the foundations and stock up on emergency supplies. But the ultimate in protection for their homes ? earthquake insurance ? remains unappealing to the vast majority of state residents. A new bill (S 637) sponsored by the state's two U.S. senators could help remedy that by slashing the cost of coverage. It may be hard for other lawmakers, whose constituents live far from the San Andreas fault, to see why the federal government should get involved.
Two neighbors, two insurance policies, two vastly different stories. Jan Tucker and Reena Newhall live next door to each other in a new Valencia subdivision that was badly jolted by the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake. Their stucco-sheathed homes, built by the same contractor in similar styles, suffered similar destruction: deep cracks and some structural damage inside, broken tiles and brickwork outdoors, and cabinets full of china, glassware and other personal items smashed to the floor.
January 23, 1994 | KATHY M. KRISTOF
With thousands of rental units seriously damaged or rendered uninhabitable by the devastating earthquake, renters are asking questions about their rights and responsibilities. Are you due a refund for part of January's rent? How soon must your landlord make repairs? Can you break your lease if the building has been damaged? Will your renter's insurance pay for your lost belongings? Here are some answers. * Q: My building has been declared unsafe by county inspectors.
April 1, 2014 | Steve Lopez
I'm generally not an alarmist about earthquakes. As a California native, I've experienced my share of small to moderate reminders that our fair state is fractured from head to toe and we're all standing on broken plates. But the shaking is putting me on edge lately. I find myself wondering if I should buy earthquake insurance, or why my dog is cocking his head as if he knows something I don't. This is partly because there's been more rocking and rolling than usual, and partly because of what we're learning about how shamefully unprepared we are for a Big One. And now I have more cause for concern.
February 25, 2000 | LIZ PULLIAM WESTON
Only 17% of California's homeowners have earthquake insurance. Are the rest in denial--or making a rational choice? Some financial planners suggest the latter. They say that the majority of California homeowners are opting out after weighing the relatively remote chance of a temblor destroying their homes against the high cost of today's earthquake coverage. But we don't buy insurance coverage just to protect us from likely occurrences.
June 21, 1995
Robert Stein (Letters, June 8) is confused concerning the intent of Sen. John R. Lewis' (R-Orange) pending earthquake legislation. The bill addresses a single problem: No major insurance company sells home insurance in California today. His legislation will make homeowners' insurance more widely available. It does not address earthquake [insurance] availability. Home insurance has become an endangered species because, by law, each home policy sold must offer earthquake insurance.
December 8, 1996
The story about Paul Masi and earthquake insurance should be required reading for all members of the Legislature. The disaster they created by their new legislation on earthquake insurance will exceed any actual damage from the next major earthquake. The problems will be far worse than what was described in the article. If an earthquake depletes the state's new earthquake authority's fund, policy holders will have to settle claims without any insurance company or the authority being put into default.
March 28, 2011 | Marc Lifsher
The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan will cost insurance companies billions of dollars. In seismically active California, though, just 12% of homes with fire insurance also have earthquake coverage, according to the California Earthquake Authority. The authority, an independent government agency created by the state Legislature in 1996, is the largest of a handful of insurers that sell earthquake coverage in the Golden State. Here's a look at some key facts about earthquake insurance.
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