Tomorrow is the Annual Great California ShakeOut!

A house after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. Did they have coverage?

Tomorrow morning, California will host what’s being billed as “the largest earthquake drill” in California history.

Every government office, business, school and family will participate, and we think that’s the most important part. Let’s think about it—when was the last time YOU did an earthquake drill? When you were in high school? Don’t you think it’s time for a refresher course?

The annual “Great California ShakeOut” will be held tomorrow at 10:20 a.m., and participants will “drop, cover and hold on” for several minutes to simulate their response to an actual, massive earthquake.

Last year only 7.9 million people joined in the ShakeOut, but they have surpassed that number this year, with 8.2 million people statewide registered to participate.

“This is now officially the largest earthquake preparedness drill ever,” said Kate Long, deputy director of the California Emergency Management Agency’s Earthquake & Tsunami Program. “That’s a lot of people empowering themselves to prepare now so they can survive and recover when an earthquake strikes.”

This is the fourth annual ShakeOut, and it is intended to simulate the impact of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, originating from the southernmost area of the San Andreas Fault. The scenario would imitate a tectonic shift that would produce waves of earth movement for hundreds of miles and last over four minutes.

David Oglesby, associate professor of geophysics at the UCR Department of Earth Sciences, reminds us that an earthquake of that size could devastate much of Southern California. “Because we live in earthquake country, everyone needs to know what to do when the ground starts shaking,” he explained.

The rules have changed from a decade or generation ago, where children were told to get into doorways or run outside when an earthquake struck. “These are both dangerous actions,” said Oglesby. He recommends instead to “drop, cover and hold on” until the quake stops, and then carefully find a way outside to a safe location, away from any buildings and the risk of being hit from falling debris.

Maybe this will convince you: if the ShakeOut’s simulation was real, some 2,000 people would die, tens of thousands would be injured and more than $200 billion in damage would result from the catastrophe, which would have 50 times the intensity of the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

And why is this important from an insurance point of view? We all know that damage can occur during an earthquake and, as we saw from the extensive damage in Japan earlier this year, the aftershocks can also be devastating. Let’s say an earthquake causes a pipe to burst, which then floods your home’s entire first floor. In insurance terms, the earthquake is the “proximate cause” of the damage, not the “direct cause”. Here’s the important part: Under CIC Section 10088, unless earthquake coverage is in force at the actual time of the earthquake, that flood damage is not covered, even if it’s covered under your regular homeowners’ policy.

And that’s not all. Although this section doesn’t prevent an insurance company from specifically providing coverage for direct loss due to explosion, theft or glass breakage resulting from the earthquake when an earthquake policy does not exist, it may be a hard case to make to the insurance company.

Do you have earthquake insurance? Geologists say “It’s not IF it’s going to hit, it’s WHEN.” So earthquake insurance is crucial! Call BMR Insurance Agency now to make sure you’ve got the best and most complete coverage necessary to protect your family, your home, and your assets: (714) 838-1911.

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