May 18, 2024

Earthquake Damage Insurance Claims

American Property Loss Service’s Public Adjusters are available to do a complete review of your  earthquake damage insurance claim. From initial on-site earthquake property damage estimates to reviewing your insurance company adjuster’s estimate for completeness, American Property Loss Service’s Public Adjusters are experienced and ready to get your life back in order after home earthquake damage.

Building damaged by earthquake

Building damaged by earthquake

An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the Earth’s surface. These seismic events can cause damage to property from ground movement, fire, or even sprinkler leakage.

August 23, 2011 one of the strongest earthquakes to strike the US east coast in decades rattled offices Tuesday in downtown Washington and caused panicked evacuations from skyscrapers as far away as New York to Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  The nation’s capital evacuated after the 5.9-magnitude quake, which was shallow with its epicenter only 0.6 miles (one kilometer) underground.

People wondered if their homeowners insurance covers earthquake damage.  Earthquake insurance is a form of property insurance that pays the policyholder in the event of an earthquake that causes damage to the property. Most earthquake insurance policies feature a high deductible, which makes this type of insurance useful if the entire home is destroyed, but not useful if the home is merely damaged. Rates depend on location and the probability of an earthquake. Rates may be cheaper for homes made of wood, which withstand earthquakes better than homes made of brick.

Most property insurance policies exclude coverage for losses resulting from earthquakes (although they often cover losses related to fires following earthquakes). Separate policies are typically required to ensure coverage against losses from earthquakes.  A small percentage of policies include it automatically, and an even smaller percentage of policyholders have specifically requested earthquake coverage.

If you just felt your home or business shaking, and you don’t know if you have earthquake coverage, it’s a good idea to call your agent.

The East Coast gets earthquakes, but usually smaller ones and is less prepared than California or Alaska for the shaking that comes with them.

In the past, earthquake loss was assessed using a collection of mass inventory data and was based mostly on experts’ opinions. Today it is estimated using a Damage Ratio (DR), a ratio of the earthquake damage dollar amount to the total value of a building.

The benefit of getting the extra earthquake coverage is that if your home were to shift off the foundation, you could go to your earthquake coverage for a claim.  If the damage and cost of repairs exceeds your deductible, could you rely on FEMA to help you repair or replace your home?

After an earthquake, particularly a major damaging earthquake, check for any gas leaks or electrical damage. If you smell or hear gas, turn off the gas at the meter and contact the gas company. If you see sparks, frayed wire, or smell hot insulation turn off the power at the circuit breaker box and contact the electric company.

Earthquakes don’t always occur when it is convenient or when we are with our families and loved ones. Be sure to have an emergency plan for such an event and make sure that everyone understands it. Consider having a contact out of the area who can coordinate information for the entire family.

Think about how you arrange your furniture and heavy objects. Put heavy objects closer to the ground and bolt bookcases to the wall. Bookcases or objects can cause injury when they fall and they may block exit pathways after an earthquake.

Make sure the water heater in your home or apartment is secured to the wall near it. One method is to use a metal strap around the water heater, with the strapping ends screwed to the wall.

When the shaking starts: If you are inside, stay inside and try to get under a table or into a closet or doorway, or other small, confined, rigid space.

Following the earthquake, if you are indoors, move outside when you determine it to be safe. Check for gas leaks and be sensitive to the possibility of fire following the earthquake, a common circumstance.

If you are near the ocean, or especially near the beach, be watchful for the possibility of a tsunami (in these cases, observers would see the water recede far from the normal shoreline, exposing a significant amount of sea bottom, prior to the wave building and rapidly moving landward). If possible, go to higher ground farther inland as rapidly as possible.

When the shaking subsides, check yourself and others for injuries. If significant damage has occurred, make sure that no one is buried under rubble or debris. Listen for cries of help. If telephones (landlines or cell phones) are still operating, use them for emergency medical help, but not for frivolous conversations.

If you have an operating radio, television, or internet connection, listen for information and instructions from emergency responders as to next actions. These may include coming to the aid of other injured persons in your area, or requests for help in delivering specific emergency services.

Should you have a property loss resulting from an Earthquake, contact us to insure all the necessary steps are covered for the maximum settlement quickly to get you back on your feet again.

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