Does homeowners insurance cover landslides?

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Owning a home is a big accomplishment, and any reasonable homeowner will try to protect their home from damage. Whether it be a small incident or a major disaster, it is never easy seeing one of your most prized possessions damaged. 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. These catastrophic events can be life-altering and force many people to have to uproot and start over.

One natural disaster that can hit any state in the U.S. is a landslide. A landslide occurs when large masses of earth, rocks or soil move down a slope. It can be caused naturally due to heavy rain or by human activity such as deforestation. Any disturbance to the earth that sits at an incline can be the start of a disaster. From 1998-2017, approximately 4.8 million people were affected by landslides worldwide. Landslides can ruin homes, communities and even take lives. As a homeowner, you want to make sure your home is protected if a landslide hits your area. Making sure you have the right type of insurance policy in place is a good start.

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. 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?

While a landslide can affect any area in the U.S., some states are more prone to them due to geographical location. If you are concerned about potential landslide damage, you should consider purchasing additional coverage through a Difference in Conditions (DIC) policy. DIC insurance is specially designed to cover losses that standard homeowners insurance policies exclude. Think of it as coverage above and beyond the gaps that your standard homeowners insurance policy has against catastrophic losses like floods, mudslides, landslides and other excluded perils. Not all companies offer DIC insurance, but you can research or ask your insurance agent for help in obtaining a policy.

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?

  • Stay alert. Many people end up caught in a landslide while they are asleep. Pay attention to the weather conditions and listen to reports from the radio or television.
  • Evacuate if possible. If your home is located in an area that typically is impacted by landslides, leave the area if you can do so safely. If not, move to a second story to get out of the way of a possible landslide or debris.
  • Contact authorities. If you are at risk of impending danger, contact authorities so they can send rescue as soon as possible.
  • Protect yourself. If you are caught in a landslide, your best option is to curl into a ball to protect your face and head from danger. A landslide can bring water, mud and debris. Whatever it may be, it may be coming forcefully and can cause you injury.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if a landslide damages my vehicle?

Although homeowners policies exclude damage to your home caused by a landslide, auto insurance would cover your vehicle. There is no DIC policy needed for your car, because your auto policy will provide coverage if you have comprehensive coverage.

Written by
Kay Irvin
Personal Finance Writer
Kay has two years of writing for insurance domains such as bankrate.com and mytopinsuranceblogs.com. She has written about auto and life insurance and was a licensed insurance agent for 10 years.
Edited by
Senior Insurance Editor