There is nothing quite as unsettling as the feeling of subtle rumbling and rolling caused by an earthquake. For those of us who have experienced it, especially if you live on the West Coast, you know that unnerving sensation I'm referring to. Earthquake damage is no fun to deal with, and it helps to know ahead of time what generally to expect and what your insurance company will cover in the event of one.
Varying Levels of Earthquake Severity
Obviously, the extent of the damage depends on the severity of the earthquake, as well as the structural integrity of the building. Earthquakes are classified as three different types: crustal, intra plate, and subduction. Crustal earthquakes are normally less than 15 miles deep and can be a magnitude of 1-5. Intra Plate quakes are stronger between 6.0-8.0 magnitude, and the most serious are the subduction quakes which are 8.0 or greater.
Types of Damage
The shaking of the ground causes soil movement, which affects the stability of buildings. This can result in cracked and weakened foundations, broken pipes, cracks in drywall, and collapsing roofs. In the past twenty years, many new building codes have been put in place to help reduce the damage caused by earthquakes, but this will do little to help older homes. In addition to the structural damage suffered by a building, earthquakes can start a string of events that will lead to greater disasters, such as floods, fires, and mudslides.
Earthquake Insurance, a Safety Net
Earthquake insurance is not automatically included in standard homeowners' polices. In California, known for its vulnerability to earthquakes, only about 12% of residents have earthquake insurance. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, it may be in your best interest to invest in additional coverage. California Earthquake Authority, a privately funded insurance company, currently holds over 70% of the earthquake policies in California. As you will see in the calculator provided in the above link, coverage is quite affordable.
Despite the fear that arises at the thought of an earthquake, they really are few and far between. If your home has recently endured an earthquake, it would be a good idea to have it inspected by a professional contractor just to make sure it is still structurally safe. Request free estimates from prescreened contractors in your area.
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