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Kenton Brine, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director

NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (503) 465-6800
Fax: (206) 624-1975
kenton.brine@nwinsurance.org
sandi.henke@nwinsurance.org
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Oso Landslide Anniversary offers painful reminders, lessons for the future in the slide-prone NW

SEATTLE, March 22, 2017 - Today marks the three-year anniversary of the tragic Oso Landslide that claimed 43 lives, destroyed dozens of properties and disrupted the lives of hundreds in Snohomish County communities. Today, as the debate continues over the slide’s causes and land-use decisions, there are lessons to be learned from the tragedy – from home siting practices to the need for insurance protection – in an area of the country where weather and geology contribute to frequent landslides. 

“Our thoughts and prayers today are with the families and friends of those lost in the Oso tragedy,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “Still before us lies the challenge of learning from the loss of an entire neighborhood and 43 lives. In some instances, that means re-evaluating processes used to determine whether or how development should be considered. In other cases, it means making sure your own home, family and business are protected.”

Brine noted that the Winter of 2017 has seen large numbers of mudslides due to heavy snowpack, heavy rain and loose soil. “Even a small slide can cause serious damage to your home, from causing flooding to knocking a home off its foundation,” Brine said. “To protect your investment, property owners in slide-prone areas should consider special coverage that is not included in a standard home or business insurance policy.”

Standard Homeowners and Business Insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by earth movement such as a landslide. Special coverage for landslides is available as a stand-alone policy for an additional cost.  As with all of your insurance policies, understanding what is and is not covered is a key first step toward protecting your property before a disaster strikes.

A Difference in Conditions policy may include coverage for landslide, mudflow, earthquake and/or flood.  Depending on risk factors, such as the slope of your property or proximity to a cliff, a homeowner with a $300,000 house can expect to pay $1,000 or more per year for this coverage.

Due to the additional cost, some may be tempted to rely on federal aid for disaster recovery.  However, federal aid following a disaster often comes in the form of low-interest loans. These loan payments are due in addition to your existing mortgage.

If you live in an area where slides or flooding have threatened properties this year or in the recent past, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk.  NW Insurance Council offers the following tips:

  • Create a family evacuation plan.
  • Learn and recognize early landslide warning signs such as: doors or windows that stick or jam, new cracks in plaster, tile, bricks or foundations, broken underground utility lines and bulging ground at the base of a slope.
  • Build retaining walls and install flexible pipe fitting to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Maintain a complete inventory of all your possessions, including photographs, receipts and serial numbers.  NW Insurance Council offers free downloadable Home Inventory Software from the Insurance Information Institute. 
  • Note that damage to vehicles caused by landslide is covered if the owner has chosen optional Comprehensive Coverage in the auto policy.
  • Personal contents inside a vehicle that are damaged by a landslide are not covered under standard Homeowners or Renters insurance. 
  • If you aren’t sure what’s covered or have questions regarding your policy, contact your agent or insurance company.

If you’d like more information on how to protect your family and property from disasters, contact the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit www.GetReadyNW.org.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education and public policy organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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