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Californians Reconsidering Earthquake Insurance After Napa Quake

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(CBS SF)

(CBS SF)

Julie-Watts_BIO-HEAD Julie Watts
The recipient of the Emmy and AP Awards for Best Reporter, Julie’s...
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NAPA (KPIX 5) — Only 10 percent of Californians buy earthquake insurance. Some say it’s too expensive, while others say they don’t think need it. But the damage from the Bay Area’s largest quake in a quarter century has many reconsidering.

Rudy Garcia is grateful for his old truck Hercules, which is the only thing keeping his childhood home from tumbling over — damage he’d never imagine possible.

“I’ve lived here since 1965 and we went through a lot of earthquakes,” Garcia said, “and this house has survived all of them.”

It’s the primary reason he says he’s never considered earthquake insurance before.

This is something Janiele Maffei of the California Earthquake Authority says is an all too common misconception.

“The kind of earthquake that may damage your house may not have happened yet,” Maffei said.

She points out damage is dependent on the location of the epicenter. So far, most of the major quakes have not been located under major population centers.

A false sense of security isn’t the only reason 10 percent of Californians have opted for earthquake insurance. For many, cost is a primary factor.

“It shouldn’t be so expensive,” Garcia said.

For Garcia’s home, valued at $350,000 before the quake, his annual premium would have been about $983 with a $52,500 deductible.

“California is such an expensive place to rebuild a house,” Maffei said. “That has such a dramatic impact on how much earthquake insurance is.”

Maffei says the CEA is working on lowering the costs of policies, but in Garcia’s case, earthquake insurance would have been cheaper than the alternative.

“There’s too many fond memories here,” he said. “I can’t just leave.”

So for now, he and his elderly father are staying put, holding out hope for federal support and relying on support from Hercules.

In addition, or in lieu of insurance, the CEA suggests retrofitting. For instance, Garcia’s home could have been retrofitted for about $15,000 instead repairing it which could costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

FEMA said at this time they will not be offering any federal aid unless the governor specifically asks for it. The state says they are currently only focusing on state, county and city owned buildings — not private owned residences.

EXTENDED COVERAGE:

 

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