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The risk for a massive earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater has increased, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The risk of that kind of mega-quake occurring in the next three decades is now 7%, according to the survey, which just last year released a report that increased the threat level from 4.7%.

It has raised the threat level again due to a better understanding that quakes are not limited to separate faults and that one can start on one fault and jump to others, resulting in a multiple faults snapping at once in a giant mega-quake.

The report says that past models generally assumed that earthquakes were confined to separate faults, or that long faults like the San Andreas ruptured in separate segments.

This newly discovered phenomenon has significantly increased the likelihood of a massive quake. Quakes dating back in the last 30 years reflect the new discovery.

  • 1987 The Whittier Narrows earthquake

Magnitude 5.9

Fallout: Three days later a 5.6 magnitude aftershock hit on a different fault. Damage reported in Whittier, Pico Rivera, Los Angeles and Alhambra.

  • 2010 California-Mexico border quake

Magnitude 7.2

Fallout: Scientists said the border quake directed tectonic stress toward and its aftershocks triggered movement on at least six faults, including the Elsinore and San Jacinto faults, which run close to heavily populated areas in eastern Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.

  • 2011 Tohoku Japan earthquake

Magnitude 9.0

Fallout: The initial quake spread through multiple faults, resulting in two tectonic plates sliding against each other and moving the sea floor an astounding 165 feet westward, creating a massive tsunami that killed 15,000 people.

 

Another study released by a California State University at Northridge professional of geophysics, Julian Lozos, predicts the high likelihood that a major quake could start on the San Jacinto fault and continue on the San Andreas fault, California’s longest and most dangerous fault line.

 

Earthquakes and your business

Business owners must consider the potential impact of earthquakes and related hazards on buildings, employees and operations.

Planning for how you will respond during and after an earthquake, and taking steps now to reduce potential damage, is crucial to a successful and speedy recovery.

Here are some tips:

  • Develop a business continuity plan.
  • Conduct an audit of general earthquake vulnerability and a hazards risk assessment.
  • Establish an operations contingency plan.
  • Conduct a non-structural assessment of your business, including inventory.
  • Hold regular drop, cover and hold on drills for employee safety.
  • Encourage employees to have family plans and emergency kits.
  • Seismically retrofit buildings or occupy/rent buildings that are built to earthquake code.
  • When looking for a new site for your business, consider risks of liquefaction and proximity to faults, transportation, power and water.

 

Insurance

If your business is operating in an area that is at risk of a quake, you should seriously consider earthquake insurance. Currently, premiums for coverage are the lowest they’ve been in years, while the risk of earthquakes has increased.

Earthquake coverage is purchased as an endorsement to the standard business owner’s policy. The endorsement covers damage caused by shaking during an earthquake, including structural damage and the damage to property.

Depending on the policy, lost business income caused by an earthquake may also be covered.

Coverage only begins when damage has exceeded your policy’s deductible – the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in.

Earthquake insurance policies often have high deductibles – ranging from 2% to as high as 20% of the value of your building, depending on its location, age and condition.