When will the big one hit L.A.?
There’s no getting around it — the “big one” is going to hit along the San Andreas fault sooner than later. According to Kerry Sieh, founding director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore, huge earthquakes occur on the southern part of the San Andreas fault every 45 — 230 years. It’s been164 years since the last “big one” happened.
In the summer of 2019, the magnitude 6.4 Ridgecrest earthquake occurred on July 4th, in the Mojave Desert. Less than 34 hours later, it was followed by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit California in twenty years, causing billions of dollars in damage to the town of Trona and the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
In 1994, the magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake occurred in the early morning hours of January 17th, resulting in 58 deaths and more than $49 billion in damages, the costliest in U.S. history.
Southern California earthquakes total about 10,000 per year, but most are small earthquakes that aren’t actually felt. Most people in Los Angeles County feel shaking from quakes a few times a year, most mild to moderate with little or no damage. But, the chance of big earthquakes in Los Angeles should come as no surprise because every type of fault is present in the metropolitan area, with the San Andreas Fault located a mere 30 miles from downtown L.A.
Is Los Angeles due for a massive earthquake?
Southern California’s last megaquake, a magnitude 7.8, occurred over 160 years ago, along the San Andreas fault. When scientists talk about the “big one”, they’re talking about another megaquake with a magnitude of 7.8 or higher, forty-four times stronger than Northridge and 11 times stronger than Ridgecrest.
The USGS estimates the financial cost of the “big one” to be $200 billion, with damage to buildings, both residential property and commercial, totaling $33 billion and lost economic activity totaling $50 billion. They have projected more than 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and disruptions in water, electricity, and communications that could last for weeks.
Is earthquake insurance worth it?
According to the California Earthquake Authority, earthquakes can cause extensive damage to the foundation, siding, and roof of homes. If your home was built before 1980 and is on a raised foundation, it is especially vulnerable if you haven’t had it retrofitted.
Without residential earthquake insurance, you’ll be responsible for all repair and/or building costs. If available, government disaster assistance may only be small grants or capped loans. These may only cover a portion of your repair costs, and they may have to be repaid.
Loss of Use earthquake coverage includes covering the additional expenses of having to live someplace else due to quake damage. Without it, you’d still have to pay your mortgage plus temporary housing rent during the time your house is undergoing repairs.
In light of all the predictions about when, not if, the “big one” will hit, Los Angeles homeowners would be well advised to look into purchasing earthquake insurance. Daniel Fraisse, earthquake insurance broker in Los Angeles, can get you great coverage at a low cost.