As Japan continues to struggle with the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, U.S. property owners may want to examine whether they are sufficiently prepared for disasters of that scale.

Even the Japanese, long used to massive earthquakes, did not anticipate a 9.0 magnitude event and ended up overwhelmed by the scope of the damage. Existing safeguards against seismic activity and tsunamis proved inadequate. The cost of damages may reach nearly $300 billion, with between $14 billion and $33 billion of the rebuilding costs covered by private insurance.

The issue is particularly important today—on the heels of the recession—because as owners cut costs during the downturn, they may have left themselves under-insured. And even those that have coverage may face disputes with providers as to who is ultimately responsible for paying for damages.

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