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East Coast Earthquake: What You Need to Know

Posted by Phil Coyne on Apr 8, 2024 1:22:08 PM

Last week, New Jersey experienced a surprising 4.8 magnitude earthquake, the strongest earthquake in the area since 2011. The earthquake was felt up and down the East Coast, including cities like Philadelphia, New York City and Washington DC. Fortunately, this earthquake didn’t cause severe damage, but the potential for loss is increasing and an awareness of this can ensure risk management strategies are put in place.

Millions Experience 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake

The 4.8 magnitude earthquake was the third largest earthquake in the region over the past five decades, and the most powerful in New Jersey in over 200 years . Luckily, reports of minimal damage and no injuries left little concern over the event. Aside from some reports from buildings over potential structural concerns, the event had no significant impact.

However, the aftershocks that followed, including a notable 3.8 magnitude event in Gladstone, New Jersey, leave questions about an increasing likelihood of future earthquakes despite being rare in this region. Unlike places like California, the East Coast is less prepared for earthquake-related damage, procedures, and damage control. With this event and scientists suggesting it could be a new normal, residents and government may need to start considering steps for recurring seismic events.

Why More Earthquakes Could Occur in the Northeast

Since 1950, about twenty quakes with a magnitude above 4.5 have occurred, according to the United States Geological Survey. The West Coast, on the other hand, has experienced closer to 1,000. The West Coast is no stranger to quakes and is typically more readily prepared for these types of events, including what to do during them, how to prepare ahead of time during them, and how to minimize damage.

While there is no clear indication that the East Coast will experience more quakes, general weather trends have been more severe and suggest seismic events could increase as well. According to the USGS, the East Coast has a wider geographic area where large seismic events can occur. While the West Coast does experience more frequent events, the areas in which they occur are more isolated. This is partially due to the East Coast having older rock formations that have a density easy for seismic waves to pass. The USGS also noted that 75% of the US could experience a damaging earthquake, though these are more specifically assumed to be in western parts of the Country.

How to Prepare for Earthquakes

Preparing for earthquakes involves a combination of structural reinforcement, emergency planning, and personal preparedness. It's crucial to ensure that homes and buildings are structurally prepared for earth movement. This could involve securing heavy furniture and appliances, installing flexible gas connections, and reinforcing structural weaknesses and foundations. Creating an emergency plan is essential, including establishing a communication strategy, designating meeting points, and ensuring everyone knows how to safely shut off utilities. This should apply to both personal homes and organizations, as an earthquake can hit at any time.

Stocking up on emergency supplies such as non-perishable food, water, first aid kits, and flashlights is also key. Regular earthquake drills should be practiced to familiarize household/ company members with the appropriate actions to take during a quake. Addressing both structural issues for building and personal preparedness can ensure the impact of earthquakes is reduced with minimal damage. These practices are standard and practiced regularly in areas with high seismic activity, and residents of the East Coast may want to start considering them for future events.

Does Insurance Cover Earthquake Related Damage?

Earthquakes, when severe enough, can cause severe damage to dwellings and personal belongings. Homes, organizations, and public buildings are at all risk of a loss in the event of an earthquake. Home and property insurance typically exclude earth movement and buildings and personal property typically won’t be covered. If you are at risk of earthquake losses, it is possible to purchase a separate policy for earthquake coverage.

Insurance with ECBM

Earthquakes aren’t the only potential threat looming over the nation. Weather, in general, is trending more severely and causing more losses to dwellings and personal property. From severe rain and floods to hurricanes and tropical storms, property is at an all-time risk. Insurance can be the financial resource you need to recover from these events, whether that be for personal homes or business property. ECBM has expert consultants and agents who can identify your key risks and provide a coverage plan that ensures you’re fully protected. Whether you’re in need of new coverage, or simply want to review your current plan, ECBM can help. Contact us for more information on our services.