Is earthquake insurance really worth it?



Marina resident Bob Figone rode through the '89 quake without earthquake insurance and he'll go through the next one without it too.

"It was so costly to have and we looked into it now after 20 years and it is still costly. So I am fine. I'm fine," says Figone.

That is a common response in the Marina District and throughout the Bay Area where only 12 percent of us buy earthquake insurance.

It seems like if you can afford earthquake insurance you don't need it.

"The problem with it that keeps most people from buying it is when you see that deductible number. When you see I am not going to get a dime out of the policy unless the damage is 60, 80 over a $100,000," says Amy Bach, director of United Policyholders, a group representing insurance consumers. She says when deciding whether to buy coverage start with geology and end with finance.

"How likely is my house to be damaged in an earthquake? Then the tricky part is the math on what is your equity in the house. I think for most people it is just math, then it is the gambling sense," says Bach.

So there are two parts to it: -- what the house and property are like and what you have in it.

Insurance industry spokesperson Tully Lehman says many earthquake policies cost less than what many think.

"Here in the Bay Area you can expect to pay about a $1,000 a year or more depending on the structure. That's for a newer home insured for $250,000," says Lehman.

If you have an older home in a precarious setting, the price can skyrocket. However, you don't have to own property to get earthquake insurance. This is something renters should consider as well.

"You want to be able to have coverage for your personal belongings and additional living expenses if you suffer an earthquake and you have to move out of your home. It would cover the costs above and beyond what you would normally pay for rent," says Lehman.

Web exclusive content commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. Includes extended interviews with reporters who covered the quake, as well as city officials and first responders who lived through it all.

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