Quake insurance: worthwhile or waste?

LOS ANGELES One insurance agency says for many Southern Californians, earthquake insurance is often last on the priority list. Only a small number of homeowners have earthquake insurance because of the cost. However, Tuesday's earthquake has some residents rethinking that decision.

According to the Insurance Information Network of California, only 12 percent of California homeowners have earthquake coverage.

"It's absolutely worth getting," says Kisha Jones of Los Angeles. "I think it's worth it. It's expensive, but it's worth it."

The Insurance Information Network of California reports that claims from the 1994 Northridge earthquake amounted to more than premiums paid in the previous 30 years.

The Northridge claims inspired the formation of the California Earthquake Authority. The group is run and funded by the state and private insurance companies. It offers quake insurance to those who feel they need it. For example, if you insured your home for $500,000, you can purchase a 10 percent, or 15 percent, deductible policy.

"I don't know. I think, at this point, because of the deductible, whether it makes sense to do that," says Mark Nakamaru of Valencia.

Homeowners are not required to have quake insurance. So it may be a tough decision to make the purchase.

"Is it affordable? It depends what you budget for it. You could be paying anything from $500 a year to $2,000 a year. It depends on your circumstances," says Candysse Miller, Insurance Information Network of California. "Are you on top of a fault, what is the chance of liquefaction in your neighborhood?"

For some, the cost is worth the peace of mind.

"I feel pretty good about it. It's a good investment," says Dee Black of Westchester. "Get it. Get it now."

There is currently a moratorium on new earthquake insurance policies in areas near Tuesday's earthquake. The California Earthquake Authority and other insurers say they usually take this action after a quake.


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