6 Tips on Preparing for an Earthquake

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Sitting directly above a fault line, the BC coast is a prime candidate for a large earthquake. In spite of the general knowledge that an earthquake in BC is inevitable, it may be surprising to learn how few British Columbians are prepared should such an event occur.  While you may not be able to prevent a large earthquake from damaging your home, you can stop it from destroying your financial future and take precautions to ensure your family is safe.

  1. Have an emergency kit ready and accessible both at home and in your vehicleKeep at least 72 hours’ worth of non-perishable food and water in your kit, along with emergency items such as: flashlights, a battery operated radio, extra batteries first aid supplies, a small amount of cash, and blankets. Also remember to keep any other essentials your family may need such as infant formula, extra prescriptions or extra contacts. Additionally, remember to pack essentials if you have pets in the home such as extra food or a pet carrier. It is important to have a kit accessible both at home and in your vehicle as you may not be home when an earthquake occurs.
  2. Secure heavy itemsin your homeEnsuring large items such as appliances, bedroom furniture and book cases are secure can help prevent avoidable injuries or damage in the event of an earthquake. One of the most important items to ensure is secured is your hot water tank. According to FortisBC, securing your tank with steel straps can help to prevent your water or gas line from breaking.
  3. Know where emergency shut offs are in your homeEnsure you locate the gas, electrical and water shut offs to your home. It is important to note that your gas should not be turned off unless there is an emergency or gas leak. If you do turn the gas off after an earthquake, you will need to have a licensed contractor inspect the lines before turning the gas back on. 
  4. Ensure you have adequate coverage for an Earthquake on your Home, Condo or Tenants policyMost residential insurance policies do not come with Earthquake insurance. This can however be added on to your policy for as little as a few dollars per month. Making sure your home insurance policy has coverage for damage caused by an Earthquake can save you significant time and financial hardship when getting back on your feet. This addition to your policy provides coverage if your home is significantly damaged by an Earthquake, or if you cannot return to your home to live due to an earthquake and need to find alternate accommodation. 
  5. Make sure you understand, and can pay your Earthquake deductibleIf you are a homeowner or tenant of a rented unit:Earthquake insurance deductibles are separate from your standard policy deductible, and are typically significantly higher. They are comprised of a percentage of your insured dwelling value, detached structure value, contents coverage and additional living expense coverages. It is important to ensure that you have funds available should you need to access your coverage. However, if you find that your policy deductible is higher than you’d like, don’t let this deter you from purchasing coverage that provides you peace of mind. Westland now offers an Earthquake Deductible Buy-Down Insurance policy, which allows you to pay an affordable premium to significantly lower your Earthquake deductible. For example, the average earthquake deductible on a standard $600,000 home would be $114,000. You could ‘buy-down’ your Earthquake Deductible to as low as $2,500, providing you peace of mind should an earthquake occur that you can afford the deductible and be able to submit your claim sooner.

    If you are an owner of a stratified condo or townhome:

    In the event of an earthquake, your condo/townhome insurance policy may not cover you if you are assessed a deductible as part of your strata’s earthquake policy. It is important to look into whether your existing policy will cover this. If not, Westland now offers a Strata Earthquake Deductible Assessment Policy. This new policy is purchased separately from your existing insurance, and like the Earthquake Deductible Buy-Down policy, will allow you to ‘buy-down’ your strata earthquake deductible assessment. For example, if your strata earthquake deductible assessment is $60,000, you could buy-down your assessment deductible to as low as $1,000. This will provide you peace of mind in the event of an earthquake and will allow you to submit your claim sooner.

    If you would like a quote on any of these product offerings, make sure to reach out to your local Westland office for pricing.

  6. Have a plan

Ensure you and your family has a plan in case of emergency. Your plan should include a designated meeting place, both near and away from your home in case you are out of the house. You should also have a plan for contacting one another after the earthquake. It is likely that cell phone and local calling services will not be working, so it is recommended to pick someone you will all call who lives out of town to check in with and let them know you’re safe.

Taking these simple steps will help to ensure you will be able to get back on your feet quicker and easier after an earthquake occur.