Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Landslides and Mudslides?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Landslides and Mudslides?

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If your home is damaged by a landslide or mudslide, standard homeowners insurance would not cover the cost of repairs. Landslides and mudslides are considered "movements of the Earth," which are explicitly excluded from coverage. To protect your home from landslides and mudslides, you will need difference in conditions (DIC) coverage.

When does homeowners insurance cover landslides and mudslides?

Unfortunately, homeowners policies will never cover damage caused directly by landslides, mudslides or mudflows. There is strict language in every policy that says any sort of damage caused by a movement of the Earth will not be covered. Mudflows, which are more liquid in nature than slides, are not covered because they fall under the same provision that excludes floods.

Insuring disasters like landslides is difficult for insurance companies due to their infrequency and the extensive damage they usually cause. To insure your home against landslides and mudslides, you will need a DIC policy, often called "gap coverage," as it fills in all the perils a standard residential or commercial property insurance policy won’t cover. DIC policies can be taken out to cover floods, earthquakes and of course, landslides and mudslides.

Where do you buy a difference in coverage (DIC) policy?

Not every company offers a DIC policy. To get a better idea of who sells DIC policies in your state, you should call your insurance agent. They will be able to tell you if your company offers it or suggest others that do. If they are unsure, we'd recommend you call your state's Department of Insurance to find out. For example, the California Department of Insurance lists some the following companies as offering DIC policies to Californians:

  • Aegis General
  • AIG
  • Cincinnati Insurance
  • Farmers
  • Mid-Century
  • Safeco
  • State Farm General
  • Unitrin
  • General Insurance

How do you get insurance for landslides, mudslides and mudflows

The three disasters don’t happen as often as floods or earthquakes, but those in high-risk areas may want to consider getting extra protections should one happen. If a landslide or mudslide were to hit your home, the cost of the damage can be quite high.

Landslides and mudslides

Land and mudslides, though a movement of the Earth, are covered by neither earthquake insurance nor flood insurance. In order to protect your home from a landslide or mudslide, you would need to take out a DIC policy.

Typically, you would buy DIC coverage as a separate policy — possibly from a different company — though some companies may offer it as an endorsement. A DIC policy normally costs several hundred dollars up to a few thousand dollars per year, depending on what and how much you are insuring.

Since landslides are so infrequent though, on average 20 to 30 happen per year in the U.S., it is debatable if getting a DIC is necessary. There are only several high-risk areas where it might be worthwhile to add DIC to your homeowners policy. The vast majority of landslides take place in California, Colorado, Washington, North Carolina and Oregon.

New York and Pennsylvania were the only northeastern states on the list, but they only accounted for six of the 617 NOAA-reported landslides between 1993 and 2011. The five states we list above, on the other hand, accounted for 244 of that 617 (with another 200 in Puerto Rico alone). Recorded mudslides are even less frequent, with only 38 reported between 1993 and 2002. For the most part, the same states that had landslides, had mudslides as well: Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho and North Carolina.

Mudflows

Unlike a mudslide, a mudflow is more akin to a flood, where the dirt or movement is much more liquid and fluid. Mudslides tend to be more solid. To be covered for a mudflow, you would need to have flood insurance. If you live in an area at risk for mudflows, however, the area is probably a flood risk, as well — so you should already have flood insurance anyway.

If you live in a flood area but don’t have flood insurance, we would strongly recommend adding the coverage. Just an inch of flood water can cause as much as $10,000 in damage to your home, and no standard homeowners policy will cover it. You should contact your insurance agent for a flood insurance quote. If the company has a partnership with the National Flood Insurance Program, then your agent will be able to write you a policy from them.

Typically, flood insurance premiums can cost anywhere from $400 per year in low-risk areas to over $13,000 a year in high-risk areas. To get the best flood insurance for your needs and in your area, we suggest getting quotes from multiple insurers.

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