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Earthquake Insurance

July 2, 2006 | Gayle Pollard-Terry, Times Staff Writer
EARTHQUAKE insurance: Most California homeowners don't have it, but Bill Saake wouldn't think of going without it. After the 1994 Northridge quake damaged his Chatsworth house beyond repair, his Allstate policy paid to rebuild. But Allstate, like many other insurers, no longer offers earthquake insurance in California, so Saake pays around $1,700 a year for coverage on his four-bedroom, three-bathroom home from the California Earthquake Authority, a privately funded, state-run insurance pool.
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.
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.
January 24, 1999
John M. Freter wonders why it's all right to charge more for earthquake insurance in high-risk areas but arguably not proper to treat auto insurance the same way ["Rates for Quake Insurance Are Based on Shaky Logic," Letters, Dec. 27]. The reason is discrimination. Drivers live in high-risk areas not because they want to, but because they must. Depriving them of the chance to purchase affordable car insurance would help neither them nor the public at large, which already suffers from too many encounters with uninsured motorists.
August 16, 1998
In "Flirting With Disaster" [Aug. 2], you had an extensive discussion about the cost of earthquake insurance and the associated problems. However, there was no mention of an important consideration: the income tax deductibility of losses due to earthquake damage. When my wife and I had a sudden high increase in the premium for earthquake insurance on our home, I told our insurance agent to cancel it. Instead, I mentioned, we would rely on Uncle Sam (and the Franchise Tax Board) to recover part of our loss through an income tax deduction.
January 10, 1990 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
A state appellate court in San Francisco ruled that a California law requiring insurers to offer earthquake insurance with their homeowners policies does not prohibit insurers from refusing to carry a homeowner altogether, if he or she insists on buying earthquake coverage. Two Marin County homeowners had sued State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. because it refused to sell them earthquake insurance and canceled their entire policy when they demanded it.
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