Thank you to the National Association of Insurance Comissionsers for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
I’ve lived in California my entire life. It’s my favorite place in the world, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. There are a few things that are facts that go along with living here, though… the endless search for the perfect taco, always carrying a sweater because microclimates are a thing, measuring distances in time. (How far is it? About 20 minutes, depending on traffic.) And earthquakes.
Now is where we sing, “One of these things is not like the other”
It isn’t like we’re living our lives on a giant boat, constantly shaking and shimmying, but it is a very real fact of life here, and is often in the back of my mind. I live about a mile from an active fault, and you can see visible quake damage all over the place up in the hills. See that yellow star? That’s our house. The scary red line? The Hayward fault.
While I’ve been aware of many quakes in my life, none have had the impact on me as the one on Oct. 17, 1989. I was in 7th grade, sitting in my butterfly chair, getting ready to watch the World Series. It’s a vivid memory; one of the weirdest thing about earthquakes is that by the time you really realize what’s happening, and that it’s a significant one, it’s over. I grew up will earthquake drills, where were ducked under tables or in doorways, but when the quake actually came, I froze.
We always called our swimming pool our own personal Richter scale; the corner of the pool where the hot tub met the shallow end would create big tall splashes of water in earthquakes, and we would judge the tremors based on the splash.
This was the biggest splash I’d seen.
We were lucky; there wasn’t any real damage beyond a couple of things that fell off the walls, and the closest call in my life was that my math teacher’s husband was actually on the Bay Bridge and his van was hit by the falling piece. It was the talk of school the next day.
Now that I’m an adult, with a home of my own, though, I think very differently about earthquakes and other disasters. I sit in my living room and think about what would happen if we lost everything. How would we start over? I think about my boss who had a terrible house fire last year, and how much work she had to do to recover her losses.
Insurance is so important. Like organ donation though, it’s one of those things no one wants to talk about, and when you don’t “need” to is when it’s most important.
What would you do if you lost everything tomorrow?
While I hate to be a Debbie Downer about this stuff, but it’s SO important to talk about it NOW, when it isn’t a pressing issue. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is here to help you learn more and to be prepared just in case.
As a non-profit, regulatory organization, NAIC does not sell nor advocate the sale of insurance, but they’re here to help. Check out their Insure U website for tons of resources and information, including general disaster preparedness and then more specific things around stuff like earthquakes and wildfires, which are very real threats for us here.
For any specific insurance questions, please visit InsureUOnline.org or your state insurance department. Contact information for all state insurance departments can be found here.