On January 17, 1994, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck California’s San Fernando Valley region. The impact was great: the official death toll was officially at least 57 fatalities, with thousands more who incurred injuries and damage recorded up to 85 miles from the epicenter in Northridge.
Even now, 24 years later, insurance agents and residents alike are feeling the effects of this single seismic event–widely considered to be one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history.
The Real Cost
The Northridge Earthquake incurred property damage costs estimated between $13 and $50 billion. During this earthquake:
- Over 20,000 individuals were displaced from their homes.
- Many buildings and structures in Los Angeles sustained heavy damage, with notable examples being the Northridge Meadows apartment complex, the Northridge Fashion Center, and California State University, Northridge.
- Several major roads and freeways, most notably Interstate 10, suffered structural damages and were forced to temporarily close.
- Communication, water, and power systems were disrupted.
- An outbreak of coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever) occurred in Ventura County as a result of large dust clouds created by landslides that resulted from the quake.
- Eleven hospitals suffered property damage, and several were rendered unusable.
- Many insurance companies who represented California homeowners restricted or completely stopped offering new policies because the law required that they offer earthquake insurance policies.
The Earthquake that Changed Everything
Even 24 years later it is easy to see the results of this earthquake, as a number of infrastructure changes came about as a result. In response to the insurance companies’ policy restrictions, the state of California created the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), which is a publicly managed but privately funded organization that provides residential earthquake insurance to Californians.
Since 1994, building codes have been updated to improve seismic force resistance, in addition to laws requiring that water heaters be adequately strapped in and freeway bridges be reinforced to withstand the forces of high-magnitude earthquakes.
Unlike other natural disasters, it is impossible to predict an imminent earthquake, so it is absolutely imperative that you take precautionary measures today to reduce the impact of a potential earthquake. Unlike other varieties of “weather damage”, earthquakes generally are not covered in the average home or business insurance policy, so we recommend that you have a robust earthquake insurance policy to keep yourself and your establishment protected.
The other step to take is preparing yourself and your building for a powerful earthquake. We encourage you to participate in the Great ShakeOut, which is now open for registration to practice earthquake readiness and run drills with your organization.
Similarly, running regular inspections of your building’s structures to ensure that it is up to code and would not create further hazards in an earthquake is critical. This may seem premature, but an earthquake can strike with little to no warning, and we want to make sure that you, your loved ones, and your business will remain safe.
About Scott Litman Insurance Agency
At Scott Litman Insurance Agency, we are dedicated to protecting HOA’s like yours. We have a unique understanding of the industry and the common risk exposures that you face in your daily operations. In fact, we find that 90% of the policies we review are missing coverages that violate the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R), exposing the board, HOA and management to lawsuits– which is why our comprehensive policies are tailored to meet your specific needs at competitive prices. For more information about our products, contact our experts today at (818) 879-5980 ext. 201, or fill out our online form.