Rotary Club Speaker Discusses Earthquake Readiness

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Speaking at a Rotary Club of San Marino meeting, California Earthquake Authority CEO Glenn Pomeroy urged residents to be prepared financially for when the inevitable next big earthquake strikes Southern California.
“There’s no place like California, but it has a lot of faults,” he said, eliciting chuckles from the crowd. “There are thousands of faults that crisscross throughout the state. As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, there are earthquakes that happen on unknown faults on a daily basis.”
The California Earthquake Authority is a not-for-profit earthquake insurance provider that typically sells its policies through a number of large and private insurance providers. Although having that insurance is not a state mandate, home insurance providers are required by state law to at least offer coverage to clients and CEA often provides those coverage policies.
Pomeroy said most Californians live within 30 miles of an active fault line and the state itself is home to two-thirds of those living in earthquake risk area in the nation.
“It’s not something that we need to live in fear for,” he said, explaining that there is a 99% chance of a 6.7-magnitude quake within the next 30 years. “We just need to be prepared. It’s going to happen. Why 6.7? That was the size of the Northridge Earthquake in ’94. They’ve studied it. They’ve modeled it. It’s going to happen again.
“There’s earthquake risk under our feet,” Pomeroy added. “We’ve just got to accept that reality and go on with life prepared.”
The CEA was created following the Northridge Earthquake, which caused $40 billion in property damage and left insurance providers and homeowners alike with sticker shock. Pomeroy said the not-for-profit nature of CEA and improving investment and funding practices have helped to lower premiums by 55% since CEA’s creation and also have expanded the variety of plans available to consumers.
As of last year, CEA had more than 1 million policyholders and is sitting on $17.3 billion ready to be paid out for earthquake damage claims when that time comes.
“We’re good for two or three Northridges, in other words,” Pomeroy said. “On the cost side, we’re doing everything we can. It’s a much better proposition now. Californians are now in the driver’s seat to choose their own policy and coverage.
“A lot of people come into this thinking it’s going to be $2,000-3,000 per year, because that’s what it was the last time they looked,” he added. “The choice is yours now.”
Pomeroy also talked about a lottery program in which certain residents — including those in San Marino — may apply for a $3,000 reimbursement to brace and bolt their raised homes to be better stabilized for earthquakes. The home must have been built before 1979 and must have a raised continuous perimeter concrete foundation sitting on level or low-sloped ground with wood frame walls in the crawl space.
Such retrofitting usually costs slightly more than $3,000 and CEA aims to award 2,000 reimbursements annually.
“Those 2,000 names will be entered into the program,” Pomeroy said. “Once they work with the contractor and get the work done, they’ll submit the receipts and get their reimbursement up to $3,000.”
Pomeroy noted that the reimbursement counts as taxable income to the federal government. Local resident Nicole Basseri said she had her retrofit done through this program and heartily endorsed it.
“It was such a gift,” she said. “I highly recommend doing it. It’s such a great thing that they offer.”
Residents should apply at earthquakebracebolt.com. For additional information on CEA, visit earthquakeauthority.com.

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