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How the Northridge Quake Inspired an Agent to Advocate for Earthquake Insurance

December 20, 2018

How the Northridge Quake Inspired an Agent to Advocate for Earthquake Insurance

Growing Up in the Insurance Business

Independent agency owner Casey Armstrong of Victorville vividly remembers her childhood and teenage years working and doing various jobs in her father’s busy insurance office.

“I literally grew up in the insurance business. I remember getting my first paycheck from my dad as a teenager,” Armstrong fondly recalls.

Although she enjoyed learning about insurance, Armstrong dreamed of becoming a lawyer until she suffered a life-threatening stroke when she was 18-years-old. She spent three months in the hospital where she had to relearn how to walk and talk.

It was during her yearlong recovery that Armstrong had an epiphany about her career goals and discovered a hidden passion to pursue a professional insurance career.

“My father sold mostly health insurance, and I saw first-hand during my recovery the importance of having it,” she says. “I also realized the importance of being able to navigate the complicated health care system so that I could someday help others.”

The rest is history. Casey worked a few more years for her father before starting her own multi-lines (including CEA) independent agency in 2006 in the California High Desert community of Victorville.

Today, the Armstrong Fairway Insurance Agency has nine employees, all of whom are licensed insurance professionals, with one member of the team focusing on advocating for and selling earthquake insurance to the agency’s customers.

“We apply the same passion for promoting and selling earthquake insurance as we do all other lines of insurance,” says Armstrong. “As CEA rates have come down and as coverages and deductible options have expanded, we are seeing enhanced interest by consumers in earthquake insurance."

The 1994 Northridge Earthquake

While Victorville is nearly 100 miles from Northridge, Armstrong clearly remembers 4:31 a.m. on January 17, 1994 when Southern California’s last major earthquake occurred—all M6.7 of it.

“Are you kidding? We sure did feel it - even here in the High Desert,” recalls Armstrong about the Northridge earthquake which occurred almost 25 years ago. “I remember huddling with my mother and brother.”

Armstrong says she is a firm believer in the adage that “it is not a matter of if, but when” the next major California earthquake will occur.

She points out that another reason earthquake insurance has become more popular in recent years is because the recovery of the housing market has enabled many homeowners to build up additional equity, which means that “these folks have a lot more to lose if they have no earthquake insurance when the big one hits.”

An Agent Involved in the Community

Armstrong, like many busy insurance professionals in California, also finds time to be heavily involved in civic, community, and charitable activities and causes.

She is currently Chairman of the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce; a member of the Executive Board of the Victor Valley College Foundation; and founder of the Apple Valley “Mud Run,” which this year attracted 1,300 participants and over the years has raised more than $415,000 for Apple Valley police activities. Armstrong’s insurance agency also has been the recipient of multiple “Small Business of the Year” area awards.

“I will always find time for community service and charitable activities,” Armstrong says. “It’s my passion and my way of giving back to this community that I love so much.”

*Mark Toohey is an Agent and Community Liaison for the California Earthquake Authority, having recently retired from a distinguished 25-year career with Farmers Insurance. In his role with CEA, Mark meets with, and gives presentations to, California insurance agents and community groups about the importance of earthquake insurance.
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