A home is typically the largest single purchase a person will make during their lifetime. Considering how expensive a home investment can be, any reasonable homeowner will try to protect their home from damage. Unfortunately, some events are beyond our control. When a natural disaster strikes, there is not much we can do to prevent the ruin it will leave behind.
Landslides, which occur when earth, rock or debris moves downward on sloped land, are just one of the natural disasters that can cause significant damage to your home. Landslides can happen anywhere in the United States, and are responsible for between 25 and 50 deaths per year. These natural disasters also cause, on average, about $3.5 billion in damages per year nationwide. Knowing whether your homeowners insurance policy covers landslides before a disaster happens is crucial to ensure your home is protected.
Does homeowners insurance cover landslides?
A standard homeowners insurance policy is meant to protect your home from specific types of losses, but the coverage excludes landslides, mudslides and other types of earth movement. Most insurance companies cover the standard perils such as fire, theft and wind damage. In addition to the standard coverages, some offer endorsements as well as added insurance for things not automatically included. However, each company is different and some may offer more or less coverage options than others. One thing most companies usually have in common is what they exclude.
Many natural disasters are not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. Even property insurers that offer endorsements do not have one for landslides. These losses can become costly because their damage is often extensive and affects many people at once. So if an insurance company took on those risks, it could drive up all homeowners premiums to account for potentially paying expensive landslide claims.
Although your standard homeowners policy will not provide coverage, there is still a way to be protected against loss resulting from a landslide.
What kind of insurance covers landslides?
Although a standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover landslides, you may be able to get certain types of insurance that will. For example, you may be able to get an earthquake endorsement on your existing policy, or you may be able to purchase a separate earthquake policy to cover damage from an earthquake that causes a landslide to damage your home.
Another option may be a difference in conditions (DIC) policy. A DIC insurance covers specific perils that are excluded from a standard policy. This type of policy may cover perils such as:
- Earth movement
However, these policies are not offered by all insurance companies, as they are considered a specialty lines product. If you are interested in a DIC policy or want to determine whether it is the right choice for your home, it may be helpful to reach out to your insurance agent to learn more.
How do I prepare for a landslide?
A landslide can create major problems for homeowners, but luckily, you can take precautions in advance. Staying aware of your area can help you prepare not to be surprised by a potential landslide. Here are a few ways to prepare for a landslide:
- Avoid areas susceptible to landslides. Stay away from homes or buildings that are near steep slopes or mountain edges. These areas are usually the first to be affected by landslides.
- Know your home’s history. Landslides typically hit where they have a history of hitting previously. Research your area or contact officials for geology records to see the history of your home to know if you are in an area that has encountered landslides.
- Keep an eye on water drainage. Look out for patterns and increases in runoff water. If you notice water starting to converge, that is an area to avoid during a landslide.
- Have an emergency plan. Create a family emergency plan in the event a landslide occurs. Go over it with all household members so that everyone knows where to meet and what to do. Establish a meet-up location outside of the home. Also, take the time to learn about the emergency and evacuation plans in your area.
What should I do during a landslide?
If a landslide is predicted near you or you notice earth movement that could become a landslide, the following steps may help to keep your family safe:
- Keep an open connection. Any natural disaster can cause you to lose power, and that includes landslides. To stay connected and aware of what is happening around you, it may be helpful to have a wind-up or battery powered radio available. You can use the radio to stay on top of weather conditions or to assess your family’s risk and evacuate if necessary.
- Evacuate if instructed. Having your radio handy will also help to notify you of evacuation orders. Once ordered, follow marked evacuation routes to get your family to safety.
- Remain alert at all times. Try to stay alert during weather events that could trigger a landslide or other serious disaster. One option is to have family members sleep in shifts so someone is always awake, alert and ready to respond if evacuation orders are announced.
- Move to higher ground. If you are in a valley or closer to sea level, you may be able to get out of the areas at risk for landslide damage by moving to a higher area.
- Pay attention to nearby bodies of water. Streams and rivers can provide signs that a landslide may be coming. If you notice the flow of a stream or river is increasing quickly, or that the water is getting more murky, it may be time to get to higher ground until the threat passes.