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5/22/2012 - Earthquake prevalence serves as reminder of environment's wrath

Earthquake damage can leave buildings unusable.

Tsunamis and earthquakes are becoming more common in the Far East, serving as a reminder that these disasters can occur at a moment's notice, the Insurance Information Institute notes.

As a result, many geologists in the U.S. have become more concerned about the vulnerability some parts of the country face, such as in Hawaii. Robert Hartwig, president of the III, said earthquakes have increased in intensity in recent years.

"Four of the five costliest earthquakes in the past three decades have occurred in the past two-plus years," said Hartwig. "The Japanese earthquake and tsunami from last year remains the costliest disaster of this type in recent history, having generated more than $35 billion in insured losses."

He added that U.S. officials have expanded their ability to detect and respond to earthquakes and tsunamis in the past several years, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has installed 39 tsunami detection stations worldwide.

Property owners can protect themselves from financial losses by securing earthquake insurance, which can be purchased as a supplement to a homeowners or business insurance policy.

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