California earthquake insurance unpopularity: the issue is the price, not the risk perception
Despite California being a highly seismic prone region, most homeowners are not covered against this risk. This study analyses the reasons for homeowners to purchase insurance to cover earthquake losses, with application in California. A dedicated database is built from 18 different data sources about earthquake insurance, gathering data since 1921. A new model is developed to assess the take-up rate based on the homeowners’ risk awareness and the average annual insurance premium amount. Results suggest that only two extreme situations would lead all owners to cover their home with insurance: (1) a widespread belief that a devastating earthquake is imminent, or alternatively (2) a massive decrease in the average annual premium amount by a factor exceeding 6 (from USD 980 to 160, 2015 US dollars). Considering the low likelihood of each situation, we conclude from this study that new insurance solutions are necessary to fill the protection gap.