Commissioner Garamendi Cautions Californians On Eve of Northridge Earthquake 10th Anniversary

January 20, 2004

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, Commissioner John Garamendi recommended that safety steps be taken immediately by home and business owners to protect their lives and investments in the case of another massive earthquake.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake, which caused more than $12.5 billion in damages, was the second most costly natural disaster in U.S. history. Since 1995, there has been a significant drop in the percentage of the state’s homeowners who carry earthquake coverage. The total has dropped from a 1995 level of more than 30 percent of homeowners with coverage, to less than 15 percent with coverage in 2002.

“Your homes and your businesses are your most important and expensive investments,” Garamendi said. “Retrofit your buildings and homes and bring them up to current safety standards.
And consider earthquake insurance so you won’t be wiped out financially if the next earthquake hits where you work or live.”

Garamendi said that steps, such as securing bookcases to walls, making sure cabinet doors don’t swing open, checking the gas line connections to homes and buildings, and having a supply of food and water available, will make a big during and after a major earthquake.

He also recommended consumers consider earthquake insurance as an option. “Earthquake insurance, particularly for residents and business owners in high seismic activity areas, can provide a means of protecting your financial future in case of a devastating event,” said Garamendi.

Garamendi strongly recommended retrofitting homes to meet current standards for earthquake safety, and for consumers to reevaluate their coverage needs based on various risk factors, such as proximity to areas of high seismic activity, the composition of the surrounding soil, and the potential losses such a disaster could cause.

“Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing answer that will protect you from all physical and financial harm in the event of an earthquake,” he said. “But being prepared can mean the difference between total financial devastation, or a good opportunity to rebuild your life.”

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