SEATTLE, Wash. - The shaking started this summer in California when a series of earthquakes rocked Ridgecrest. Last week’s magnitude 4.6 earthquake in Monroe hit closer to home for many Puget Sound residents – begging the question, are you ready, not if but when the ‘big one’ strikes?
As insurance agents, we talk a lot about what you need to protect yourself, your family, and your assets. When natural disasters occur questions start to swirl about what is and is not covered by insurance. One of the most common misconceptions around insurance is that your homeowners policy covers damage caused by earthquakes - but that isn’t necessarily true. To ensure you and your family are protected always check with your agent and see what your specific policy includes.
Below, we’ve gathered some things to think about and do so when the next one strikes you’re ready to go.
The Basic Need-to-Knows About Earthquakes:
- Washington, Oregon, California, and up into Canada are along the Cascadia fault line and is considered “overdue” for a major earthquake.
- Earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 or greater may cause significant damage.
Tips for During an Earthquake:
If you’re in a buildings:
- Stop, drop, and hold: cover your head and neck and hold on for shelter.
- The best place to hide: under a sturdy table.
- Do not stand in the doorway: while doorframes in older homes were strongly reinforced this is not necessarily the case for modern homes.
- Do not run outside. While many people opt to run out of the structure in fear of possible collapse, this instead creates potential risk of being hit by debris that may fall, and leaves you with no place to take shelter.
If you’re in the car:
- Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking has stopped.
- Try to get away from buildings, powerlines, trees, and streetlights.
- Avoid bridges and overpasses,
- If a powerline falls on your car, do not get out, wait for assistance.
After the shaking stops:
- Remember to hold for aftershocks.
- Wear shoes when moving about to avoid injury because of debris.
- If you smell gas, get as far away as possible. Pipes may break during strong earthquakes causing gas leaks.
- Before you leave the building, check to make sure that the doorway you are leaving through is a debris free zone in order to keep yourself safe.
- Earthquakes may cause fire alarms to sound and sprinkler systems to activate, even if there is no fire.
- Disaster insurance varies, make sure your policy covers the type of natural disasters in your area. For example: earthquake insurance may be different from tsunami insurance.
- Document damage to your property in order to report to your insurance.
- Pro tip: If you have any questions about earthquake coverage, contact your ISG agent – we’re prepared and ready to help keep you covered.
- Unsure about packing your own earthquake kit but think it might be good to have one on-hand? Amazon has kits in a variety of sizes.
- Prefer to build your own earthquake kit? Here’s some tips of what you may need to include. The American Red Cross has created personalized quiz that helps you answer the question of how best to fill your (personalized) earthquake kit.
Looking for more information about earthquake preparedness? Check out’s segment.