Our Research ​​​​

CEA research helps ensure sound rates

California Earthquake Authority (CEA) works hard to ensure that policyholders get earthquake insurance rates based on the best available science.

Our ongoing commitment to the following research projects helps inform our scientifically-based insurance rates. It also helps us better understand how to prepare for and reduce the damages caused by major earthquakes.

Why are these projects so significant?

  • They will be used to create the next version of the National Seismic Hazard Maps for California.
  • These maps shape all seismic design, so they will greatly influence future construction of nearly all buildings in California.
  • Specifically for homeowners, these projects have helped quantify earthquake risk in California so they can make informed decisions on how to protect their household finances from the costs of recovering from earthquake damage.

Current Research

South Napa Study

CEA commissioned Dr. Sharyl Rabinovici to conduct a study that surveyed and analyzed what happened to single-family dwellings and homeowners in the 2014 South Napa M6.0 earthquake. The study consisted of an on-line survey, interviews, and home inspections. The Executive Summary (PDF) summarizes these findings.

The results show a population widely impacted by a moderate event, and individuals who are resourceful and resilient but faced with many challenges in handling earthquake vulnerabilities.

Insights gained about the beliefs and experiences of Napa homeowners can help CEA further improve its insurance offerings and mitigation programs, as well as advance state-of-the-art earthquake retrofit performance research.

Read the full CEA South Napa Study Report (PDF).

UCERF3 (Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast)*

UCERF3 is a report that provides estimates of the magnitude, location and likelihood of earthquakes striking throughout the state.

According to UCERF3:

  • There is a more than 99 percent chance in the next 30 years that a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or greater will hit somewhere in California.

  • The research also reports that scientists now can consider more than 250,000 different fault-based earthquakes, whereas previous research and models considered far fewer.

  • The research reports that the likelihood of an earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater in the next 30 years in the entire California region has increased 50 percent over previous (UCERF2) estimates.

  • An even more powerful quake — a magnitude 7.5 or greater — has a 48 percent chance of striking California in the next 30 years.

  • There is a 75 percent chance that a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake will strike in Southern California sometime during the next 30 years.

  • In the next three decades, there's a 76 percent chance that a magnitude 7 or greater quake will happen in Northern California.

Learn more about UCERF3

NGA-West2 (Next Generation Attenuation)*

NGA-West2 is a scientific study that advances research aimed at helping us more thoroughly understand the effects of earthquake ground motions. This information:

  • Leads to the ongoing improvement of codes and retrofit guidelines
  • Provides earthquake loss modelers one of the key inputs necessary to estimate damage to residential structures
  • Combined with other CEA-sponsored research, is used to calculate insurance rates

FEMA P-50 (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

FEMA P-50 was developed after the Northridge quake, this study has created a simple, standard assessment form to evaluate a house's resistance to earthquake damage based on:

  • Structural attributes
  • How close a house is to earthquake hazards

This assessment form helps homeowners identify how to strengthen their houses and lower their earthquake risk.

CUREE (Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering)

CUREE is a non-profit organization that helped CEA develop guidelines for the evaluation and repair of earthquake damage to single- and multi-family, wood-frame buildings. 

These award-winning guidelines are currently used to train claim adjusters.

Read the Guidelines.

ATC-110 (Applied Technology Council)

ATC-110, a recently completed research project funded and managed by CEA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and conducted by the Applied Technology Council, makes it easier and more cost-effective to seismically retrofit several common types of houses in California and reduce their vulnerability to earthquake damage.

The project researched approaches for evaluating and retrofitting several types of light-frame residential structures and created a “prestandard” for seismic retrofitting of these structures that is now available for use by contractors, engineers and skilled homeowners. The project was intended to increase the number of California homes that are strengthened against earthquake damage.

The prestandard also could help inform building codes about how much seismic reinforcement is needed for future construction. CEA and FEMA will work with the International Code Council through the code adoption process to create a nationally recognized standard that could be approved by the American National Standards Institute, and then will work with California agencies to adopt the standard into the California Existing Building Code.


  • CEA has been honored by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute for our innovative work with UCERF3 and NGA-West2.
  • In 2014, CEA also received an award for excellence in educational outreach in mitigation, research and public education from the Western States Seismic Policy Council.

Questions about our research?

For more information about CEA research, contact:
(916) 661-5000 or

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