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Contact:
Karl Newman, President
Darrin Sanger, Communications Director
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
karl.newman@nwinsurance.org Follow at Twitter.com/karljnewman
darrin.sanger@nwinsurance.org
Follow at Twitter.com/darrinsanger

Advanced preparation key to reducing earthquake damage

SEATTLE - The 7.7 magnitude earthquake that caused a massive tsunami, Oct. 26, off the coast of Sumatra left a deadly path of destruction and a grim reminder of how natural disasters can strike anywhere with little or no warning.

NW Insurance Council reminds homeowners and business owners to consider Earthquake Insurance. Standard Homeowners, Renters and Business owners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage.

Because an earthquake can strike anywhere at any time, Earthquake Insurance can be the peace-of-mind you need to protect your home and business.

"The Puget Sound region is veined with unstable seismic fault lines that can spell disaster for homeowners and businesses," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "In spite of this reality, only an estimated 12 to 15 percent of homeowners are choosing to purchase earthquake insurance."

Following Washington's 6.8 Nisqually Earthquake of 2001, more than 9,500 insurance claims were filed and insurance companies paid more than $315 million to business owners and consumers to help them repair the damage.

Yet, many homeowners say they don't have earthquake insurance because they believe it's too expensive and the deductibles are too high. Prices climb even higher if your home is in a high-risk area or is made of brick or concrete.

"Earthquake Insurance is there for very serious damage or total destruction of your home," Newman said. "The high deductibles keep premiums lower and help make the coverage more affordable."

Homeowners and business owners can obtain Earthquake Insurance by purchasing a separate insurance policy or an endorsement to an existing insurance policy. Some companies that don't specifically offer Earthquake Insurance do allow their agents to find coverage for their customers through surplus lines carriers such as Geo Vera, ACE European Group Limited and Lloyds of London.

Whether you purchase Earthquake Insurance or not, it's critical that you prepare your family to survive a natural disaster.

NW Insurance Council offers the following disaster preparedness tips:

  • Gather and store emergency water, non-perishable food and first aid supplies.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Check with your local utilities office for instructions.
  • Be sure to have a flashlight and a battery-powered radio on hand in case power is cut off.
  • Place large and heavy objects on lower shelves. Securely fasten shelves to walls. Brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects.
  • Deep plaster cracks in walls should be investigated. Such cracks, especially on ceilings, could result in large pieces of heavy plaster falling and causing injury.
  • Sketch a floor plan of your home and identify safe places to seek out during an earthquake.
  • Maintain a home inventory of all of your possessions, including descriptions and serial numbers, if any, and keep this list (or video) in a safe location away from your home, such as in a safety deposit box. For free downloadable Home Inventory software, visit www.nwinsurance.org.
  • Damage to your vehicle as a result of an earthquake is covered if you have Comprehensive Coverage on your policy.

For more information on how to protect yourself and property from an earthquake or other disasters, visit GetReadyNW.org or call (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.