Earthquake Insurance: A Longitudinal Study of California Homeowners

Earthquake Insurance: A Longitudinal Study of California Homeowners

Earthquake Insurance: A Longitudinal Study of California Homeowners

Earthquake Insurance: A Longitudinal Study of California Homeowners

Excerpt

On January 17, 1994, southern California was reminded of the power of an earthquake to disrupt life and destroy property. In the 1994 San Fernando earthquake, more than sixty people died, 5000 were injured and 25,000 were left homeless (Figure 1.1). It was the most destructive earthquake within the United States since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, with damage estimates over $20 billion.

More serious threats are the "great earthquakes" predicted for the San Andreas fault in southern California (magnitude 8.3) and for the Newport-Inglewood fault, which bisects downtown Los Angeles (magnitude 7.5). Depending on the time of day, such earthquakes could cause many thousands of deaths and direct economic losses in excess of $70 billion.

Can people protect themselves from these very destructive events? The answer is "yes." At the county or city level, people can adapt land use and construction standards to known geological conditions and earthquake probabilities. For example, certain classes of rock or soil are more subject to shaking or failure, increasing the potential for damage to roads or buildings. By combining maps of more vulnerable areas with information about the likelihood of earthquakes in various regions, local jurisdictions can plan land use in response to known hazards.

Individuals can protect themselves against some of the worst effects of an earthquake that occur in the first 72-hour emergency period. California residents and visitors can learn about protective measures from a large number of sources. For example, telephone books describe emergency procedures to follow during and immediately after an earthquake. California state law requires real estate agents to provide purchasers of pre-1960 homes with copies of "The . . .

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