How do you decide to whether to buy earthquake insurance or to take your chances without it? For many it’s a matter of money. Many simply can’t afford it, while others are afraid of the consequences to be caught without it.
I want to give you some ideas to help you decide what’s best for YOUR situation. Please consider two things. Number one is the geology under your park and the second is how well you home is braces for such an event.
Here in Orange County, as well as other coastal counties, we have areas which are subject to liquefaction. That’s a condition where high water table areas can turn into a sort of muddy jello when violently shaken by an earthquake. In an extreme earthquake, it will be hard to avoid damage as the mobile home and the pad that it’s on can sink into the muck. Homes in these areas are much more expensive to insure. Earthquake insurance is certainly recommended in these areas.
In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge quake, the State of California passed legislation requiring all manufactured homes built in 1996 and later to have an earthquake safety bracing system installed as a part of set up. Also, all homes relocated after 1996 had to have a bracing system installed as part of the move.
These bracing systems work! The primary cause of severe damage happens when the home comes off the piers that support it. When this happens all utility services are severed; electricity, phone/internet, water, sewerage & gas. The piers will poke up through the floor destroying the subflooring and floor coverings. The worst of it will that Red Tag placed on your door by ‘the powers that be’ which prohibits your occupancy.
Unless it’s the “really big one”, manufactured homes with a qualified support system will remain on the piers. There may be broken dishes and TVs. There may be a separation in the roof and there might be other cosmetic damage. However, you will likely be allowed to sleep in your bed without interruption, while your neighbors may have to seek shelter elsewhere. This is a big deal.
With that in mind, please think of earthquake insurance as a resource only for “The Big One”. Quake deductibles range from 10% to 15% of your home’s insured amount. That’s $10,000 to 15,000 on a $100,000 policy. So, for those who sustain cosmetic damage only, there may be nothing paid by your earthquake policy.
However, if your home leaves the foundation, you will stand to collect 10s of thousands from your insurance to get you back into your home.
In 1994 FEMA was very helpful those unable to handle their deductibles. In fact, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) installed and paid for 38,000 EQ bracing systems in Orange, Ventura and Los Angeles counties to mitigate future earthquake damage for manufactured home owners.
Another critical point I would like to make involves Additional Living Expense coverage (aka: Loss of Use coverage). Unless you have friends or family you can stay with after a devastating earthquake, you will need funds to pay for food and lodging while you’re out of your home. Basic quake policies only allow $1500 for this coverage. If you’re out of your home, you can bet that most of your neighbors are out of theirs too and places to stay will be extremely sparse. I recommend the purchase of a higher limit for this coverage. The length of time required to repair or replace a manufactured home is, at the very best, 3 to 6 months and, that’s a lot of rent to pay.
If you have questions, be sure to call your agent or, feel free to call us at Hughes West-Brook Insurance Agency 800-660-0204. We are in our 41st year serving the manufactured housing community only!
Myron Hughes, owner/broker See Myron’s Ad on page 15. Myron is very knowledgable and even knows much of the history of advocacy here in California. Give him a call at 800-660-0204 and tell him you appreciate his support of Mobilehome Magazine. Let him know that when your insurance is due, you will give him a chance to write your policy.