Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Earthquakes - The Increasing Risk in California

Nature can be a cruel mistress. The wet winter we have experienced has been seen as a blessing – it has refilled the reservoirs and ended the drought that had affected over 75% of the state. But while the rain has been welcomed, it has also brought with it an increased risk of earthquakes. Californians are no strangers to quakes and accept the tremors in the ground as part of life. But the record amount of rain over the last few months may have created such a large amount of pressure in the groundwater system to be a trigger for major disasters.

Frightening Research

A recent study by Durham University says that “"earthquakes are triggered by a tiny additional increment of stress added to a fault already loaded almost to breaking point.” Itgoes on to say that hydrological changes do not need to be either large or sudden to cause changes in the water pressure at geological fault zones. It concludes that "It is thus unsurprising that extreme rainfall events might also encourage earthquakes. A number of instances of this have been flagged by scientists."

California’s History of Natural Disasters

Once again the Governor has had to ask for federal help to combat the flood conditions. That will help the state to cope with the damage. However, such help is always post facto. Help cannot be requested for a disaster that is in the future such as the increased probability of earthquakes due to the flooding. Federal and state relief programs are meant to tide over the immediate aftermath of disasters. They are not insurance against them and do not help in rebuilding lives that have been affected by them. However, as a homeowner you can get the flood and earthquake insurance you need to protect your family and your future.

Studies show that the majority of Californians are under-insured when it comes to protection from natural disasters. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may look good on paper and the coverage may seem to be adequate to protect your home, but does it cover flood and earthquakes? A major flooding incident or a massive earthquake could not just damage your home, it could destroy it along with all its contents. Recovering from that kind of loss requires a huge amount of resources. It is not just a matter of rebuilding the house and replacing everything in it. You will need a roof over your head during the months or more that it could take to move back home. Your living expenses will increase during this time. Are you sure your homeowner’s coverage will compensate you for all of this? You cannot hope that you are covered – you must be sure. The best way to do that is by contacting an insurance broker to help you review your existing coverage and supplement it with flood and earthquake insurance to give your family the protection it needs. Paying more for insurance may seem to be a needless expense but the odds of being affected by a natural disaster are not in your favor and they are getting worse. Balancing out your natural disaster protection may be less expensive than you think and an insurance professional will be able to help you find the optimum balance.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Flooding - California’s Real and Present Danger

It never rains, it pours. The rains that have hit California so hard over the last few months have caused major flooding and damage across northern parts of the state. The Governor’s office says that the cost of repairing flood damaged roads, dams and other infrastructure could be over $1 billion. Just the cost of repairing the Oroville Dam spillway could top $200 million. While all these numbers point to the magnitude of the problem, they do not include the damage and property loss that individuals and businesses have suffered.

What the State Government Says

The California Department of Water Resources says that “every year millions of Californians are at risk from flooding along thousands of miles of streams, rivers, lakes and coastline.” It goes on to say that no one can predict when flooding will occur – it could be a regular event or occurring after a gap of many years. What can be stated with certainty is that lives will be lost, homes flooded, damaged and destroyed, jobs and income lost and ecosystems damaged. Since 1950 flood disasters have been declared in every county in the state at least 10 times. Some counties have had up to 29 state and federal disaster declarations.

The Low Flood Risk Myth

Living in a low flood risk zone can instill a false sense of confidence about the why you do not need flood insurance. Low risk does not mean no risk. Those living outside high risk zones file over 20% of National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP) claims and receive one third of flooding disaster assistance. Bad drainage, heavy rain, snowmelt, and even something as basic as a broken water main, can cause flooding and severe damage. If you live on a hillside you may not be at risk of water damage, but a mudslide (covered by most flood insurance policies) could damage or destroy your home. The bottom line is that no one is completely safe from the risk of flooding. Being at low risk means only that the chances of being affected by flooding is lower. Are you willing to take a chance with your home and your family’s security?

Taking action to protect your home and family from the effects of a flood is not something to be ignored. You may think your homeowner’s insurance policy will help you to recover from a flooding event. But generally speaking, a standard home insurance policy will not cover flood damage and loss. And even if some protection is available, it may not be enough to help your family get back on their feet after the kind of major property and financial loss that a flood can cause. Flood insurance usually requires a separate policy and navigating through the often confusing world of insurance can lead to mistakes that you may only realize when the time comes to file a claim. That is why calling in on an insurance agent to check to see if you have the flood protection you need is the safest way to keep your home and family secure.