Responding to Disaster: Earthquakes and Land-Moving Events
Earthquakes can happen anywhere, according to Ready, the official website of the Department of Homeland Security. Although California tops the list for higher risk areas for earthquake occurrence, the idea that earthquakes can happen anywhere hits close to home for people living in Texas. A report in Texas Monthly shows that after no reports of earthquakes around Fort Worth prior to 2008, in the 10 years following, there have been hundreds.
Likewise, landslides have occurred in almost every state and can cause significant damage. While landslides are associated with hilly terrain, the more rare occurrences of sinkholes can develop on level land; they’re prone to happen in Florida, with most damage from sinkholes tending to arise in Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Geological Service.
Although a homeowners policy does not cover earthquake damage, a standard policy generally covers other losses resulting from an earthquake or other land-moving event. Check with your insurance professional to be sure, and also find out what coverage is available through an auto insurance policy if your car has been damaged during one of these events. (Note: The Insurance Information Institute states “sinkhole coverage presents unique challenges when it comes to insurance coverage. … (M)ost property insurance policies in the U.S. exclude damage related to the movement of the earth …”)
If you live in an area where seismic activity has been recorded, the Ready website offers the following information to help you prepare for an earthquake:
- Practice “Drop, Cover, then Hold On” so you’ll better know what to do if you happen to be inside a structure, even if you have no warning.
- Secure furniture and other items; store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves.
- Create a family-emergency communications plan; where will you meet if you get separated?
- Make a supply kit; include enough food and water for three days, a flashlight, fire extinguisher, whistle, medication, etc.
- Make improvements to your building to fix structural issues that could cause your building to collapse during an earthquake.
The American Red Cross offers information on what to do before, during and after a landslide, including the suggestion to learn about local emergency response and evacuation plans.
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Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.