Of all disasters, earthquakes rattle Californians the most

Justin Stoltzfus

The notion that California residents fear earthquakes may come as no surprise for anyone who has experienced or seen video footage of) these dramatic disasters. Yet a recent poll indicates that Californians' fear of earthquakes is growing.

The poll, conducted by the Field Research Group, found that more than half of Californians 57 percent) cite earthquakes as the natural disaster they most fear. Wildfires took second place, with 23 percent, while tidal waves 9 percent) and mudslides 5 percent) rounded out the list.

Another finding of the poll was that a majority of Californians 56 percent) feel that a major quake will happen in the state within the next 10 years. Five years ago, just 40 percent felt that way. The numbers were higher overall in urban areas like Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.

Indeed, earthquakes are formidable. They can topple homes and break valuables. They can trigger gas and water leaks. In other words, they are a homeowner's nightmare. And, unfortunately, earthquake coverage is excluded from basic home insurance policies.

In California, homeowners can get earthquake insurance through the California Earthquake Authority CEA), a privately funded, publicly managed entity. Only 13 percent of California homeowners have this coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute, because it doesn't come cheap. Standard policies include a deductible that is 15 percent of the home's replacement cost, meaning a homeowner would have to pay 15 percent of the home's replacement value before coverage kicks in. Lowering that deductible means raising the premiums.

CEA earthquake insurance also includes additional living expenses ALE) coverage, according to the California Department of Insurance. This type of coverage pays for your living expenses like meals and hotel rooms) while your home is uninhabitable. According to the California Department of Insurance, homeowners can waive ALE coverage if they don't live in the dwelling they're insuring.

In addition to getting the right insurance coverage, you can protect your home and valuables by making your home earthquake-ready. The Insurance Information Institute recommends doing the following:

  • Fix large pieces of furniture like dressers) to walls.
  • Anchor large appliances like water heaters) to the walls using straps.
  • Mount computers, flat screens and other electronics to prevent them falling and breaking
  • Brace heavy brickwork like chimneys and other free-standing structures.
  • Add latches to drawers to prevent them from opening and spilling their contents.

See how much you could save today on your home insurance. Get your free home insurance quotes today!