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Earthquake Retrofitting Is Urged

State Authority Expands Grant Program for Those Already Insured
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The recent spike in earthquakes was a wake-up call for Southern Californians to stock up on essentials such as water, non-perishable foods and first-aid supplies.

But in the bigger picture, it should also remind So Cal residents to have their homes — particularly if they’re older structures — earthquake retrofitted, and to consider earthquake insurance, experts said.

“Retrofitting your home is a simple step to take in making your life more disaster resilient and could save you enormous hardship,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

“Reducing the chance of a house sliding off its foundation during an earthquake, while at the same time lowering the cost of earthquake insurance for the homeowner, is a great outcome.”

Against that backdrop, the California Earthquake Authority Governing Board recently voted unanimously to offer up to a $3,000 retrofit grant to approximately 30,000 CEA policyholders as part of CEA’s existing “Brace + Bolt” program. Previously, 12,000 CEA policyholders were eligible to apply for this retrofit grant, launched earlier this year.

The CEA is a not-for-profit, privately funded, publicly managed organization that provides residential earthquake insurance and encourages Californians to reduce their risk of earthquake loss.

Beginning July 1, eligible CEA policyholders also can receive up to a 25 percent discount on their CEA earthquake insurance premium when they retrofit their house to modern building codes, according to a July 21 news release from the group.

“Californians face the reality that an earthquake could strike at any moment,” said Ricardo Lara, the state’s insurance commissioner.

“Preparation and mitigation will be critical to the millions of Californians living in residences that are not built to withstand a significant quake.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, represented by Ghilarducci, along with Lara and State Treasurer Fiona Ma are the three voting members of the CEA Governing Board.

Glenn Pomeroy, the CEA’s chief executive officer, said that, starting July 1, premiums will be lower for about 75 percent of CEA policyholders, while 25 percent of CEA policyholders will see a premium increase.

Increases, the CEA said, are a result of a number of rating factors, including recent scientific findings that show increased earthquake risk in certain areas; rising construction costs; and greater recognition of certain construction factors that contribute to damage, such as the type of roof and foundation, the CEA said.

“We want to help our most at-risk homeowners reduce their risk, so they can increase the safety of their home while lowering their earthquake insurance premium,” Pomeroy said. 

The “Brace + Bolt” program will provide up to $3,000 to 3,500 eligible policyholders who sign up for this program on a first-come, first-served basis and complete a code-compliant retrofit.

For more information on retrofitting, insurance and other quake issues, go to EarthquakeAuthority.com.

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