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Four myths about earthquakes believed by many homeowners and renters in the United States

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Natural disasters are an incredibly common cause of stress, especially in areas most prone to it.

California is, unfortunately, vulnerable to some of the most devastating natural disasters. From wildfires to earthquakes, homeowners and renters must prepare for the many worst-case scenarios.

The exact risk of earthquakes in California is constantly changing, but the potential for damage is always there. What’s more, the damage caused by a large earthquake, or suffered over the years as many small earthquakes hit homes, can be catastrophic, and only with protection from this possibility – rather than waiting for it to happen – can we sleep peacefully at night.

Read more about the 5 most common earthquake myths that many homeowners still believe.

Earthquake damages are covered under the Standard Homeowners / Tenants Policy …

This is arguably the most damaging myth regarding earthquake-related damages – especially in light of the fact that many homeowners and renters who live in high-risk areas still relax in a false sense of safety, and assume that earthquakes are another event included in their current policy.

This, quite simply, is not the case. Only a purpose-designed earthquake insurance policy can provide reliable protection against financial disturbances in the aftermath of an earthquake.

… and specific coverage is a waste of money

On the other side of the coin, even those who understand that an earthquake insurance policy is part of the current coverage can still get it wrong. Many assume that the additional monthly cost will prove to be just a monthly cost that does not go anywhere.

Of course, the hope is that it doesn’t lead anywhere – nobody wants an earthquake that hits their home. But, like any worst-case scenario – from other natural disasters like floods and fires, to uncontrollable situations like burglary – preventive measures are best over stress and financial stress to alleviate the situation that has already occurred.

Homes built in high-risk areas will be subject to strict building codes

This is true in many ways. High-risk areas, such as those built above fault lines, will be subject to more stringent conditions that ensure a greater level of protection against earthquakes. This government inquiry line is an excellent line of defense between homeowners and the high risk of earthquakes, but it can also make some of us feel good.

Building codes are constantly being updated as new technologies and methods become widely available. These additions ensure higher levels of safety for residents living on or near fault lines, but they do not apply to homes that have already been built.

Older homes will adhere to the building codes as they were written at the time of construction, and as a result will be more vulnerable to major damage.

Disaster relief aid will be sufficient to cover earthquake-related damage

In times of extreme distress, the government may provide financial assistance to those severely affected by disasters. As a result, disaster relief aid will come in the form of federal loans.

However, your belief in this help is misleading. For one thing, loans are still loans – even if given in the form of government aid. It has to be repaid at the end, which means your money is unable to avoid the full burden of earthquake damage.

Moreover, you cannot be confident that this assistance will be provided to you. For some homeowners, it may not be an option – even if they need it most.

Finally, even if it were available, it might not be enough. Not only will you need to repair significant damage to your property, but you may need to find another place to live while the work continues. Family support and repair of serious damage takes great financial losses, and government aid may not be sufficient.

Final thoughts

Nobody wants to believe their home will be struck by disaster. For many, ignoring the problem is a much simpler route – that is, until something catastrophic happens, and the danger suddenly turns into reality. For those who live in areas considered at risk of earthquakes, the only way to ensure that the impact of these natural disasters is minimized is through preparedness.

Understanding the scale of the risks, and making sure you do everything in your power to implement safeguards against financial and emotional losses to repair your home is the only way to make sure you are ready for disaster relief.

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