LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As the Napa earthquake brings back seismic memories throughout the Southland, residents weigh the benefits and disadvantages of earthquake insurance.

While some residents recall the Northridge Earthquake of 1994, they consider the purchase of earthquake insurance an absolute necessity.

“(There was) very little damage to our house, but (there) was a lot of other damage,” homeowner Judy Uhrman said. “Everything fell down, and we just decided it’s a good thing to have.”

Other Southern Californians who experienced the ’94 earthquake have a different opinion over the prospect of earthquake insurance.

“That one really shook, but we didn’t sustain any damage in the house at all,” homeowner Mike Leigh said. “This is pretty solid ground here, and the house is well-constructed.”

In 1996, two years after the Northridge earthquake, 30 percent of California residents signed up for earthquake insurance through the California Earthquake Authority.

Nearly 20 years later, about 12 percent of Californians have earthquake insurance, despite rates being 45 percent cheaper. Many claim that the deductible is rather high.

The deductible in California is typically about 15 percent of the cost to replace one’s home. In other words, a home worth $300,000 would have to sustain $45,000 of damage before the homeowner gets any money from the insurance company.

However, this does not mean the homeowner would have to pay that amount. Rather, insurance owners would be expected to pay a premium, prior to the earthquake, which currently averages $798 per year in California.

While Uhrman pays twice that amount, she says she feels more comfortable with the insurance when she sees the damage caused by Napa’s earthquake.

“It shocks me,” Uhrman said of the 12 percent of Californians owning insurance. “Although I know it is expensive, but for us it’s worth it.”


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