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Contact:

Kenton Brine, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director
NW Insurance Council
Phone: (206) 624-3330
Fax: (206) 624-1975
kenton.brine@nwinsurance.org
sandi.henke@nwinsurance.org
Follow at Twitter/nwinsuranceinfo

Fifth Anniversary of Japan Tsunami
is a wake-up call for the Pacific Northwest

  • The Washington and Oregon coastlines have the highest risk of tsunami anywhere in the continental United States. 
  • Earthquake Insurance is available as a separate policy or as an endorsement to a Homeowners policy.
  • Flood damage, including tsunamis, is only covered by a flood insurance policy provided by the National Flood Insurance Program.

SEATTLE, March 11, 2016 - Today marks the five-year anniversary of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami that devastated Northern Japan. Tsunami surges from the earthquake reached as far as the Washington and Oregon coasts, causing some damage. Although our region escaped devastation last year, the disaster serves as an ominous reminder that the threat of tsunami in the Northwest is very real.

NW Insurance Council offers tips on how to prepare and encourages homeowners and business owners to consider both Earthquake and Flood Insurance because earthquake and tsunami damage are not covered under most standard Homeowners, Renters and Business Owners insurance policies.

The Washington and Oregon coastlines have the highest risk of tsunami anywhere in the continental United States. The Northwest region also has the second highest risk of earthquake. Geologists say an earthquake and tsunami similar to the one in Japan last year could occur in the Pacific Northwest at any time along the Cascadia Subduction Zone that stretches from Vancouver Island to Northern California.

"The Washington and Oregon coasts and the Puget Sound region are veined with unstable seismic fault lines that can spell disaster for homeowners and businesses," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "If your home or business is at risk, it makes sense to consider Earthquake Insurance and Flood Insurance, which covers outside water coming in at the surface level, including tsunamis."

Earthquake Insurance is available as a separate policy or as an endorsement to a Homeowners policy, while flood damage, including tsunamis, is only covered by a flood insurance policy. Flood insurance policies are provided through the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Some private insurance companies known as Surplus Lines carriers also offer flood insurance as a separate policy. Additional information on Flood Insurance can be found by going to the FloodSmart.gov website or calling 888-379-9531.

Check with your agent or insurance company for more details on how you can protect yourself against the devastating effects of earthquake and tsunami.

NW Insurance Council offers the following tsunami, earthquake and disaster preparedness tips:

  • If you live along the coast, an earthquake in your area is a natural tsunami warning. Do not stay in low-lying coastal areas after a local earthquake. Do not return to such areas until local authorities tell you that the danger of a tsunami has passed.
  • Approaching tsunamis can be preceded by a noticeable rise or fall of coastal water.
  • Never go down to the beach to watch a tsunami. When you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves following an earthquake. 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.
  • To prepare for any natural disaster, gather and store emergency water, non-perishable food and first aid supplies.
  • Creat a family evacuation plan.
  • Maintain a home inventory of all of your possessions, including descriptions and serial numbers and keep this list (or video) in a safe location away from your home, such as in a safety deposit box. Free, downloadable Home Inventory Software is available from the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Develop a family emergency survival kit that includes a three-day supply of drinking water and food you don't have to refrigerate or cook. The kit should also contain first aid supplies, a weather radio, batteries, clothing, blankets, medicine, copies of your insurance policies and some basic tools.
  • Damage to vehicles caused by earthquake or tsunami is covered if owners add optional Comprehensive Coverage to their auto policies.
  • Damage to personal contents inside a vehicle is covered under standard Homeowners or Renters Insurance.

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

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

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