With the anniversary of the Northridge Quake in mid-January, earthquake coverage was on a lot of minds.
Jan. 17 marked the 19th Anniversary of an event many Southern Californians well remember. On that day in 1994, the Northridge earthquake shook Southern California, causing lost lives, catastrophic damage and massive interruption to the region’s infrastructure. The magnitude 6.7 quake resulted in $15 billion dollars in damage.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones recalled the anniversary by issuing a statement warning that nearly nine in 10 homeowners and renters do not have earthquake coverage.
“On this 19th Anniversary of the Northridge earthquake we must be aware of our region’s ever changing geology,” Jones said in a statement. “The Northridge earthquake was a tragic event that impacted many Californians. We must be more prepared for the next big earthquake that scientists say may come at any time.”
In December there was a reminder how geologically active the state can be, when California experienced a 6.3M quake off the San Diego coast, which occurred underwater and yielded the threat of a tsunami. According to seismologists, it was the biggest earthquake in 2012.
The California Earthquake Authority in January also opened registration to its “Marketing Value Program.” Registration started in the middle of the month and round 1 closes on March 8.
CEA’s annual program, in which the quasi-private earthquake insurer encourages insurance agents to sign up to receive direct mail marketing pre-printed with agents’ names to send to potential clients, is growing in popularity, according to CEA executives.
The program also provides incentives, like emergency kits to the first 5,000 CEA policies reported.
Registration is open to all agents licensed in California who are employed or appointed by CEA’s participating insurers. The intent is for the mailers to get into the hands of thousands of agents over two rounds, according to CEA.
By CEA’s estimates 85 percent of Californians live on or near the state’s hundreds of earthquake faults, though CEA has a special tie to the Northridge Quake.
The California Legislature established the group in 1996, following legislative action to design a reduced-coverage earthquake insurance policy to protect a policyholder’s dwelling while excluding coverage for costly non-essential items.
During the Northridge Quake 60 people lost their lives, 12,000 were injured, 8,000 homes were destroyed, and 114,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged, as were thousands of automobiles and several roads and bridges, while different degrees of damage occurred throughout Southern California.
Strong ground motion was felt as far away as Las Vegas.
The quake also yielded three aftershocks in the 6.0M range. The area’s infrastructure was badly damaged, with several freeways shut down due to structural failure, and areas like the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles County were virtually cut off from the rest of the region.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey the state’s biggest, fastest and best known fault, San Andreas, is among hundreds of faults spread throughout the state.
A large quake along that fault could last 100 seconds, yielding hundreds of landslides and damaging hundreds-of-thousands of structures, USGS figures show.
A San Andreas earthquake could leave more than 150,000 people displaced, and generate 53,000 visits to emergency rooms and cause 1,800 or more deaths in Southern California alone, according to noted USGS seismologist Lucy Jones, who said 1,600 fires are possible after such a quake.
Jones also said to expect $123 billion in economic losses following such an event.