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Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director
NW Insurance Council
Phone: (800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
Follow at Twitter/nwinsuranceinfo

Consumer Alert

Preparing now is critical to surviving future earthquakes

SEATTLE - Earthquakes can strike at any time and cause massive property damage in a matter of minutes.

In 2001, the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually Earthquake rocked the Puget Sound region, causing nearly $3 billion in damage to homes and businesses.

"The Northwest is veined with unstable seismic fault lines that can spell disaster for homeowners and business owners," 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."

Many homeowners say they don't have Earthquake Insurance because they believe it's too expensive compared to other types of property insurance. Prices climb even higher if your home is in a high-risk area or is made of brick or concrete.

"Earthquake Insurance may double the cost to insure a wood-frame home," Newman said. "However, for most people, your home is your most valuable asset. Even with Earthquake Insurance, the cost is still lower than most of us pay to insure two family cars for a year."

Damage to your vehicle as a result of an earthquake is covered if you have Comprehensive Coverage on your auto insurance policy.

Another concern for many homeowners is the high deductibles that come with Earthquake Insurance - often 10 to 15 percent applied separately to your home, contents and outbuildings.

"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."

Whether you purchase Earthquake Insurance or not, it's important that you prepare your family to survive a natural disaster. The NW Insurance Council offers the following earthquake and disaster preparedness tips for homeowners and renters:

  • Sketch a floor plan of your home and identify safe places to seek out during an earthquake.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Check with your local utilities office for instructions.
  • 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.
  • Gather and store emergency water, non-perishable food and first aid supplies.
  • Be sure to have a flashlight and a battery-powered radio on hand in case power is cut off.
  • 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 or call (800) 664-4942 for a free Home Inventory Booklet.

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