The earthquake that struck China was the same magnitude as the earthquake that struck San Francisco in 1906.  That earthquake and the ensuing fire destroyed the city of San Francisco.  The Chinese earthquake’s epicenter was at least 900 miles from the large urban center of Beijing in an area that can best be described as suburban.  Still, the Chinese earthquake’s death toll is currently 10,000 people with tens of thousands of people injured.

Can you imagine if an earthquake this big happened again in San Francisco?  Is our infrastructure advanced enough to withstand the next earthquake?  In San Francisco, it is not a matter of "if" but "when" the next quake will happen.  Scientists all agree a "big one" will occur in the Bay Area sometime in the next 30 years, with a 50 percent chance that it will be larger than a 7.5 magnitude.  Those reports plus the images now coming from China are enough to scare the bejeesus out of San Franciscans.

Several people I have spoken to today mentioned the Chinese earthquake and made parallels to our own geographic area with fear and concern.  Some even went as far as calling their insurance companies inquiring about earthquake insurance, which is insanely expensive.  It typically doubles most homeowner’s premiums and adds a 10 to 15 percent deductible.  Also, if the insurance company does not do the math right, you may never get paid on your claim if the insurance company folds after the earthquake.

The fact that people here are considering the insurance after seeing the devastation in China says a lot about the human condition.  I would be interested to know how many new earthquake riders are sold due to the Chinese disaster.  Whether you have insurance for the next earthquake or not, I am sure the "big one" is somewhere in the back of your mind.

1 Comment »

  1. Yes, we should be concerned about the next earthquake, but I visited China six years ago (five cities in two weeks) and saw firsthand the blend of ancient and modern buildings. Mass poverty conflicting with rising wealth, no doubt many of those buildings came down like a house of cards, they were so old and outdated. The question is how much does the Bay Area have in common with China?

    #1 by Keith — May 14, 2008 @ 8:26 am

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