Week 15 – EARTHQUAKE Insurance – is this something you and your family need?

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The time to prepare is NOW – once the big one STRIKES it will be too late.  Your family is counting on you! 

Answering your Earthquake Preparedness Questions

By Jackie Kloosterboer – Speaker, Trainer, 

Author – My Earthquake Preparedness Guide 

Easy to follow steps with lots of checklists to help you get prepared!

WEEK 15 QUESTION:  Why have Insurance – Why have earthquake insurance?
Each year I respond to approximately 30 house and apartment fires to help people and pets who have been impacted. This is done as part of the Emergency Social Services (ESS) program. ESS is a team of dedicated volunteers around our province who are trained to help evacuees during times of disaster.  Other parts of Canada and the US have this role filled by Red Cross volunteers.
Responding to house and apartment fires I can’t tell you how many times I have arrived on scene to find out that the people who have been burned out of their homes don’t have insurance and in many cases are now homeless.  

Even if the fire wasn’t in your unit you can be displaced for a few days and often for longer. Some fires I have been involved with people have been out for 7 months. Of course ESS will help them but only for the initial 72 hours. After the 72 hours these evacuees are on their own.  Then what are they to do?

A cold wet November night I arrived on-scene at 3:37am to an apartment fire. The flames were jumping out of the windows and I knew then – many of these residents would be out for a long time.  I checked in with the fire department and they directed me to the 8 families who were displaced huddled together. Puzzled, cold and bewildered – they just didn’t know what to do or where to turn.
I walked over and the first family I spoke to was a Mom and Dad with two elementary school aged children. Absolutely everything they owned in their apartment was gone. The fire had started in the unit next to them but had quickly engulfed their apartment.   Needless to say they were devastated.
What were they to do – they had essentially lost everything – photos, clothes, school backpacks and laptops – just to mention a few key items they relied upon. 
Talking to the Mom – through tears she explained they had just moved into the apartment 3 days ago and she hadn’t yet had time to purchase their insurance – they were from out of town and she had been busy getting the kids settled in their new school and the hundreds of other tasks you need to complete when moving into a new community.  Purchasing insurance was on the long “to-do” list but unfortunately they never got to it.  
Fortunately the rest of the families that lived in the apartment ESS assisted that evening had insurance or they were able to return to their units as they had not sustained any significant damage.   
But for the one family they had 3 nights in a hotel then what – where would they live, what about furniture, what about shoes and clothing and what about school – there were so many new challenges they had to face. 
If only they had had insurance their life after this disaster would have been much easier. The insurance company could have helped look after them.
The next day I returned to the apartment building and the family without insurance were carrying a few items out they had been able to rescue from their back patio along with clothes that had been on a drying rack on the patio. The smell of smoke was incredibly strong, but his was all that was left after the fire.

The families with insurance were being looked after by the restoration company and all their belongings were being taken care of by the restoration company or being replaced depending on their situation. 
What a difference it makes when you have insurance. My heart went out to the family I was assisting. If only they purchased their insurance policy.
Another apartment fire I responded to with my ESS Team was in a very affluent part of the city. In my mind I assumed all of the residents would have insurance as the apartments they lived in were expensive. That was definitely a bad call on my part – unfortunately many did not have insurance.
What was unfortunate was – many of the residents who owned these apartments did not speak English and did not understand what was included in their strata fees or Homeowner Fees. They all paid their monthly strata fees and these fees included insurance but what they didn’t realize was the insurance the strata fees covered was the building insurance and not the contents the residents owned. To have their contents covered by insurance they need to have purchased a different insurance policy to cover their contents.
Again – many people lost everything simply due to a misunderstanding. The point here is make sure you have a clear understanding of what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t cover. You must know this before facing any sort of disaster from a house fire to a massive earthquake.
Now – let me tell you an expert in insurance I am not – earthquake preparedness yes I will claim to be an expert but not insurance. What I encourage all of you to do is read your insurance policy and see what it covers or talk to the company who sold you the insurance and ask them the specific questions you have relating to your insurance.
I checked with a few of my neighbours in my strata and one thought he was covered by the monthly strata fee and 4 others had no idea if they had earthquake insurance with their insurance policy. One thought earthquake insurance was already included in his policy.

Earthquake insurance is not included in your regular insurance and needs to be added to your policy.  There is an additional fee for earthquake insurance. I would encourage you to talk to your insurance company and make an educated decision before saying No to Earthquake Insurance.
If you live in an area that is prone to flooding you should check with your insurance company to make sure you are covered or not covered. You don’t want to be facing a flood wondering if you are covered. find out before the flood happens. When you know then you can take steps to better prepare yourself.
Over the last few weeks in my weekly posts we went through many ways you can secure your furniture, your hot water tanks and minimize the impact an earthquake could have to your home. Make sure you have completed these important steps and also make sure you and your family are carrying adequate insurance to better protect you.
You’re Task for Week #15
  1. Check your insurance documents and make sure you have adequate insurance or check with your insurance company.
  2. If you live in an area that can be impacted by earthquakes make an educated decision if you should or should not have earthquake insurance.
  3. Make your home safe. Refer to the last few weeks of my Blogs for steps to make your home resilient to an earthquake.  This can prevent unnecessary damage to your home and also your family and pets.
Week 16 we will look at Earthquake Preparedness for your pets and some of the important steps you need to take to ensure your pets are safe when facing an earthquake. 
Have questions – don’t hesitate to ask. Until next week – Stay safe and make sure you, your family and pets are prepared for an earthquake or any disaster that may come your way.
Jackie Kloosterboer – BIO
Jackie Kloosterboer has been leading the way in earthquake preparedness for 2 decades presenting more than 100 Earthquake Preparedness sessions each year to a variety of groups and businesses. She is often interviewed by a variety of media outlets across Canada as she promotes the importance of earthquake and disaster preparedness.
As an Emergency Preparedness Specialist and an Instructor with the Justice Institute of BC Jackie travels across Canada teaching people how to respond to disasters to help those who have been displaced. Throughout British Columbia Jackie has taken on leadership roles assisting those who have been impacted by disaster.

Contact Jackie to speak at your next group or business event to help you, your family, your staff and pets get prepared for earthquakes or whatever disaster comes your way. Jackie will lead you through the necessary steps helping you identify what is important to you and your family or business.  

Contact Jackie with any questions or to book her for your next event at jackie@survive-it.ca or call (604) 355-2414

Jackie is available for:
Earthquake Preparedness Presentations
Preparedness Plans
In-Home Walk-Throughs
Preparedness Kits
Media Interviews

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