NWS Landslide warning emphasizes need for special landslide insurance for homes and businesses
What To Know
- Damage from landslide, mudflow and flood is not covered by your standard Homeowners or Business Owners Insurance.
- Coverage for landslide is available through specialty carriers. Flood Insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program and some insurers.
- Damage to vehicles caused by landslide is covered by optional Comprehensive Coverage.
SEATTLE, December 1, 2016 – The National Weather Service recently issued a warning that heavy rains in Western Washington have created an elevated risk of landslides. The NWS warning is an important reminder for home, vehicle and business owners to review their insurance policies and consider adding “Difference In Conditions” and Comprehensive Auto coverage – because damage from earth movement, including landslides and mudflow, is not covered under standard home or business insurance policies.
Additional coverage for earth movement or flood damage is available for homes and businesses in most areas, at varying costs. 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.
“In recent years, Western Washington residents and business owners have witnessed actual disasters like the tragic Oso landslide, as well as the threat of catastrophes, like potential flooding from a breach in the Howard Hanson dam in the Kent Valley,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “Now – before you suffer a loss – is the time to learn more about the insurance that could help you rebuild your home or business, or repair or replace your vehicle after a landslide or flood.”
Standard Homeowners and Business Insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by earth movement such as a landslide or mudflow. Special coverage for earth movement - called a “Difference in Conditions” policy - is available for purchase as a stand-alone policy for businesses and residential policies, usually from a specialty lines broker.
A Difference in Conditions policy typically includes coverage for landslide, mudflow, earthquake and 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. Coverage for flood and mudflow also is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) but comes with a 30-day waiting period before the Flood Insurance Policy goes into effect.
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 a high-risk area, there are several things you can do to prepare for and protect yourself from landslides.
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.
- 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.