News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: April 5, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Urges All Californians to Evaluate Need for Earthquake Insurance
Nearly 90 percent of homeowners and renters do not have earthquake insurance
After the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Mexico's Baja California Peninsula destroyed homes and buildings yesterday, millions of Californians are wondering if they are adequately prepared for disaster. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner urged all consumers to equip themselves and their homes for earthquakes and to evaluate their individual needs for earthquake insurance.
"Sunday's earthquake reminded millions of Californians that our state is home to many devastating natural disasters," said Commissioner Poizner. "Because earthquakes can strike at any time without warning, it is vital for homeowners to prepare now for the possibility of a catastrophic loss. I urge every consumer to evaluate their individual need for earthquake insurance, and to regularly inventory their belongings to make sure their existing homeowners coverage is adequate."
A 2008 National Association of Insurance Commissioners survey revealed that the majority of American consumers do not have the coverage necessary to protect themselves from specific types of losses that are not reimbursed under standard policies. Based on a data call by the Department of Insurance, almost 90% of homeowners and renters do not have earthquake insurance.
Get important information about preparing for a disaster from the California Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Or, call our toll-free consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP.
Commissioner Poizner provided the following disaster preparedness tips for California homeowners and renters:
- Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. Take photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.
- Keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
- As you acquire more valuables - jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art -consider purchasing an additional "floater" or "rider" to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter's insurance policy.
- Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).
- Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a website for easy retrieval.
- Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.
- Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.
- Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.
- Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.
- Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy accordingly.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.