Earthquake Insurance

* My eyes widened with disbelief while I read state Sen. John R. Lewis' letter (May 29) regarding his pending earthquake insurance bill.

As "refugees" of 20th Century Insurance Co.'s exit from the homeowners and earthquake insurance business, our earthquake coverage terminated on April 28 (we have yet another year with their homeowners coverage before that goes away, too).

Since March, I have been trying to find 10% earthquake coverage (like we've had for years) for this 1-year-old house. Guess what? Can't be purchased. Several agents have privately expressed the opinion that insurers are using the Lewis bill to hold homeowners like us hostage.

This logic eludes me, since I don't want a homeowners policy this year--I want a "de-linked" earthquake policy, and no one is writing them (it's not against the current law). Of course, we can't get a homeowners policy with 10%-deductible earthquake coverage, either.

What I was offered was either a homeowners policy without earthquake coverage (gee, thanks, maybe next year?), or a homeowners policy with 20% deductible earthquake coverage, or a homeowners policy with an opportunity to purchase 10% coverage after 60 days, but at a cost that the insurance company would tell me after 60 days of holding their homeowners coverage.

Lewis very carefully crafts his words about his bill that appear to offer solace to homeowners. But only existing policyholders are "protected" by his proposal. Those whose insurance company decides to use one of the litany of reasons allowed for dropping coverage in Lewis' law are perhaps literally left out in the cold.

Meanwhile, we have involuntarily joined the 70% of homeowners that don't have earthquake insurance, and hope and pray for the best. In this case, that would include a resounding defeat for the Lewis bill or Gov. Pete Wilson's veto.

ROBERT L. STEIN

Laguna Niguel

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