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Insurance Gap Looms For Brawley Residents As More Quakes Expected

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BRAWLEY (CBSLA.com) — Homeowners in the Imperial Valley and across the Southland may be rethinking their insurance coverage after a swarm of light to moderate earthquakes has left the region rattled.

KNX 1070’s Pat Haslem reports only 12 percent of California homeowners have earthquake insurance, which means a majority of California homeowners could be on some shaky ground if a major temblor hit.

As of Monday morning, over 300 quakes have been recorded in what is known as the Brawley Seismic Zone, knocking out power to 2,500 homes and shifting 20 mobile homes off their foundations.

Brawley, a small farming community located near the Salton Sea, last experienced a similar earthquake swarm in 2009.

Pete Maraga of the Insurance Information Network of California said the quakes are a sobering reminder for homeowners in the region.

“With the standard homeowner policy, that does not include any kind of damage from an earthquake,” said Maraga. “It’s a separate policy, it’s separate coverage that you have to get, different than your homeowner policy.”

A standard earthquake policy will not only cover the structure of a home, but also all contents kept inside the structure as well as any additional living expenses incurred by the quake.

And while many homeowners expect the federal government to provide benefits in the event of a disaster, but Maraga said that notion was all but dispelled after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

“The most that you can get in a FEMA grant is about $30,000, and then you can get a low-interest loan through SBA (U.S. Small Business Adminstration),” he said. “Even though that is low-interest, you have to understand that you’re gonna have to pay that back and pay off your mortgage as well…with the earthquake policy, you don’t have to pay anything back.”

Scientists from California Geological Survey, US Geological Survey, Cal Tech and the Southern California Earthquake Center warned Monday of the potential of an earthquake as large as or larger than Sunday’s M5.5 earthquake that could “cause damage to older structures”.

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