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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 coverage.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Landslides and Mudslides?
Unfortunately, homeowners policies will never cover damaged caused directly by a landslides, mudslides or mudflows. There is strict language in every policy that says an sort of damaged caused by a movement of the Earth will not be covered. Mudflows, which are more liquid in nature than a slide, are not covered because they fall under the same provision that excludes floods.
Insuring disasters like landslides are 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 Difference in Conditions policy.
How to 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 large.
Landslides and Mudslides
Land and mudslides, though a movement of the Earth, are neither covered by earthquake insurance nor flood insurance. In order to protect your home from a landslide or mudslide, you would need to take out what is called a "Difference in Conditions" (DIC) policy. A DIC is often called a "gap coverage" as in fills in all the perils a standard residential or commercial property insurance policy won’t cover. DIC’s can be taken out to cover floods, earthquakes, and of course, landslides and mudslides. Typically you would buy a DIC as a separate policy--possibly from a different company--though some companies may offer it as an endorsement. They normally cost 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 mudlides 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.
Where to Buy a Difference in Coverage (DIC)
Not every company offers a DIC. To get a better idea of who sells DICs in your state, you should call your 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. The California Department of Insurance lists the following companies as offering a DIC--at least in the state of California. They include:
- General Insurance
A mudflow is different from 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, that means the area is probably a flood risk as well--so you should already have flood insurance anyway.
If you do live in a flood area, and don’t have flood insurance, we would strongly recommend adding the coverage. Just an inch of flood water can cause $10,000 of damage to your home, and no standard homeowners policy will cover it. If you are curious to sign up, you should contact your insurance agent. If your company has a partnership with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), then your agent will be able to write you a policy from them. Typically if you live in a high-risk area, premiums may cost you an extra $1,000 per year, with less severe areas usually costing half as less. To find out more about flood insurance, go here.