5.2 Earthquake Reminder Of Unpredictable Seismic Activity

By: Daniel Rattanamahattana on May 21, 2013

A minor earthquake occurred on Friday in Western Quebec in an area less than 100 kilometres from Ottawa, and the effects were felt as far west as Toronto.  The earthquake was considered a minor seismic movement that caused few, if any significant damages.  But the unpredictable quake reminds Canadians and property insurance firms that natural disasters cause expensive damages.

Natural Resources Canada reported the earthquake early on Friday morning.  It measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, and was followed by a 4.1 aftershock minutes later.  The earthquake was felt across Western Quebec, and stretched south towards Montreal.  Seismologists, who study the effects of earthquakes, believe larger earthquakes felt in Montreal could cause some of the most expensive damages resulting from natural disasters in all of Canada.

The Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC) released a report in April that stated a 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurring in or around Montreal “could potentially result in insurance damages claims that exceed $100 billion.” Montreal is one of the most densely populated areas of the country, and is located on an active earthquake seismic zone.  The earthquake on Friday was only reported as a 5.2, but is a chilling reminder that seismic disturbances unexpectedly occur.

The potential $100 billion in insurance claims is significant for homeowners in the Montreal area.  As insurers are forced to pay for widespread damages, the cost of reimbursing those claims is inevitably passed onto homeowners through higher home insurance rates.  Companies are free to impose those increases as they see fit, and homeowners should review their plans every year to ensure the documented coverage meets their specific needs.

The PACICC also notes that earthquakes of approximately 5 to 5.5 on the Richter scale occur around the Rocky Mountains frequently, and can be felt as far as 500 kilometres away.  Homeowners in the West should be just as cautious as those in the East. 

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