Natural Disasters and Portland Real Estate

Mt. Hood taken from Kings Heights It was less than three minutes after an earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area this morning that the first posts started to appear on my Facebook page.  You can’t avoid the horrifying images of the tornadoes that swept through the Midwest and South a few days ago.  Floods, earthquakes, forest fires, and other natural disasters make up a significant amount of our headlines, just not locally.   Yet.

On one of those brilliant “five mountain view days” we have to remember that we’re looking at a bunch of volcanoes.   A number of years ago I got an email asking about volcanoes and earthquakes.  I wrote a brief reply and the response was a long diatribe about how all of us in the Northwest are on the brink certain destruction by volcanic activity and if those didn’t get us the earthquakes will.  Not exactly a comforting thought but not impossible.  Mt. Saint Helens reminds us once in a while that its an active volcano.  The Oregonian has a good write up on the potential for Pacific Northwest earthquakes.   Someone once told me that, “an extinct volcano is extinct until it is not.”

With each natural disaster, the news coverage eventually makes mention of insurance.  The event was or wasn’t covered.  What happens when “The Big One” hits?  Most pundits say it isn’t a case of “if” but “when?”  Will you be covered?  I can’t say what insurance coverage you should have but you want to know if your covered even though the whole goal is to never have to use it.  Earthquake coverage is often an add-on to a policy. Would an act of God be covered under your policy?  What about a landslide?

Flood insurance is one type of coverage that is often mandated by lenders.  If you are in a flood plain, it’s likely flood insurance will be required.  You can do your initial search for potential hazards on PortlandMaps.  Enter the property address and click on the “hazards” link on the “maps” tab.  There’s flood, slide, earthquake and fire information on that tab.

I think most of us take our insurance policies for granted.  An audit of your policy might reveal that you’re under-insured, not covered or even paying for coverage you don’t need.  And if you’re reading this as a renter: please take a minute to make sure you have a renter’s policy.  The odds are your possessions aren’t covered under the landlord’s policy.

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