Thinking of buying quake insurance? It's a gamble

After the destructive earthquake near Wells on Feb. 21, and the subsequent realization that Carson City is at risk from one as bad or worse, I quickly jotted on my "to-do" list to check with my insurance agent to see if my home is covered.

As expected, the answer is no. It's likely that you're not covered for earthquake damage either.

I talked to a local insurance agent, Lauren Chamberlain, and she estimated that only about 5 percent of homeowners in the region are covered for earthquakes.

Before you dial your agent in a panic, however, there are some things you ought to know.

For one thing, it's not cheap. On my house, it would cost about $500.

For another, the deductibles are high. On the quote for my house, the deductible was $30,000 on the building and $15,000 on personal property. All of that would be well worth it if an earthquake destroys my home, but if it only did $30,000 in damage and wrecked $15,000 worth of my stuff, it wouldn't save me a penny.

"The only thing with an earthquake is it's usually not a total loss," Chamberlain said.

She told me that earthquake and flood insurance are expensive compared to other forms of insurance because they're disasters that are hard to predict. Insurance companies can tell you spot on how many people are going to die in a given age group each year, and from what causes. But no one has figured out how to accurately predict earthquakes.

Then there are all those gray areas with insurance. For example, if an earthquake ruptured a gas line and burned down your home, would your normal homeowners insurance cover it or would you need earthquake insurance? If the quake knocks over a candle and your house burns down ... covered? The list goes on.

And that's why the best advice from Chamberlain is this: Sit down with your agent and go over what is and is not covered, and then you can determine knowledgeably whether you should purchase earthquake insurance.

Well, at least as knowledgeably as possible when it comes to insurance ... it will always be a form of gambling.


Fearless prediction of the week - The V&T Railway will never make its way through Brunswick Canyon.

That's also the trick question of the week, and it's courtesy of State Archivist Guy Rocha, who sent a reminder after seeing an incorrect reference in the Appeal last week.

The V&T is actually slated to run through the Carson River Canyon. Brunswick Canyon is in the northwest Pine Nut Mountains, which does intersect the Carson River Canyon at one point about a mile from where the river leaves the Eagle Valley.

He expects the confusion to persist, and I think he may be right. Everyone I know refers to it as Brunswick Canyon. From here on out, I'll do my part to set them straight.


A quick update on that bartender battling cancer while living a simple life (a wood stove for heat and no running water) in a trailer in the desert south of Silver Springs. Once resigned to having a short time to live, Tom Blomquist is now hopeful that treatments have worked better than he ever expected and is focusing on paying off $141,000 in medical bills.

He hopes to live, but either way, he figures, he's not in need of many possessions, which he's kept in a storage unit. He intends to sell those possessions March 15 at 10 a.m. out of a storage unit at Stor All on Retail Road in Dayton.

"It will be 50 years of eclectic accumulation and I intend to disburse 90% of my possessions, art and oddities, glassware ... antiques to include furniture and Nevada memorabilia," he wrote. If you'd like a more specific description, you can reach him on the day of his sale on his cell phone at 671-5772.

Also part of his strategy for paying his medical bills is his Web site,, where he not only sells uniquely Nevadan T-shirts, but includes the background on his situation. To read it, appropriately, you have to click on the lines "...who is this crazy bastard anyway?"

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. You can reach him at 881-1221, or via e-mail at


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