ShakeOut in West May Raise Disaster Awareness

October 20, 2011

Today may be a good day to sell disaster insurance in the Western United States.

A massive earthquake drill set for 10:20 a.m. PDT today is designed to raise awareness of the disasters that can be posed by a massive earthquake.

More than 8.7 million people are expected to participate “Great ShakeOut” earthquake drills being held in California, Nevada, Guam, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

The ShakeOut is designed to motivate people to be prepared to “drop, cover, and hold on” to protect themselves during earthquakes at work, school and home, according to the organizers of the event, which began in southern California in 2008 as a way of involving the general public in a large-scale emergency management exercise.

ShakeOut may also be an effective selling and awareness tool for the insurance industry to discuss preparedness with not only individuals, but businesses, public institutions, and those in the industry itself, said Monica Buchanan, fire claims section manager with State Farm Insurance in Bakersfield. State Farm and the California Earthquake Authority are partners in the event.

“It helps raise awareness by getting people to remember that on the third Thursday of every October, wherever you are, that you stop for a moment and you practice ‘drop, cover and hold on,'” she said. “The message for insurance agents and brokers is have CEA insurance to protect your property to protect your home, but also practice the ShakeOut so that you have a family plan. We live in these communities as insurance agents and insurance brokers. We don’t know when an earthquake will hit, so we have to be prepared.”

Through its website the group makes available materials specifically designed for agents and brokers to discuss preparedness with businesses, community groups, individuals and families.

“Clearly the partnership with the Earthquake Authority is designed to increase the number of Californians with earthquake insurance,” Buchanan said, adding that currently less than 12 percent of homeowners in the state have CEA insurance.

The drill is based on a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the San Andreas Fault, and on the “ShakeOut Scenario” developed by a team of experts.

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) developed advanced simulations of this earthquake that were used to estimate potential losses and casualties, and to show the public how the shaking would be felt throughout the region. SCEC is headquartered at the University of Southern California and funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and United States Geological Survey (USGS).

More than 6.9 million people participated in the 2009 California ShakeOut, and more than 7.9 million in 2010.

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