While it may seem unlikely, there are areas across the U.S. where homes were built over abandoned mining sites. These homes are at higher risk of mine subsidence, which is a slow ground movement process that occurs when an old mining site’s shafts and tunnels collapse over time. occurs when a mine collapses. This ground movement may then cause adjacent ground to settle and cave in, causing cracks and spongy ground.

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Mine subsidence can do significant damage to the homes that are built on these sites. In rare cases, the mine subsidence can even threaten the life of the people in the area. If you live in an area where there is a possibility of mine subsidence, or if your home is one of millions built over an abandoned mine, it may be smart to get mine subsidence insurance to protect against the worst case scenario. This type of specialized homeowners insurance policy may help protect your finances in the event that mine subsidence causes structural damage to your home.

Mine subsidence

Mine subsidence occurs when there is shifting, sinking or collapsing of the ground as a result of mines underground. When there is movement, it can cause sinkholes, depressions or troughs in the land, which in turn can cause great damage to any structures built on or near it. Mine subsidence damage, by definition, is damage caused by a shifting or collapse of the earth from the man-made structure, and not because of a natural occurrence like you might find with an earthquake.

There are pockets in the United States, such as in Pennsylvania and Illinois, where there is a greater concentration of abandoned mines. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified 33 different states from coast to coast where abandoned land mines exist, only a handful of states have areas of concern where housing is built on or near possible mine subsidence. In general, abandoned land mines refers to an area where mining used to take place but is no longer active.

Do I need mine subsidence insurance?

If you live in an area identified by the EPA as an abandoned land mine site, then you should consider adding this coverage. If you are working with a licensed insurance agent, chances are a knowledgeable agent would be familiar with the location of the home and could possibly know if it is prone to mine subsidence.

You should first confirm if your home is built near an abandoned land mine, and the states where this is a concern have resources available to confirm this. For example, Pennsylvania offers an online site where you simply input your address to confirm possible mine subsidence concerns. Counties in some states, such as certain designated counties in Illinois, automatically require the coverage, but it is optional for the remaining counties in Illinois. Whether the coverage is mandated or not, if you are concerned about your home’s proximity to abandoned land mines, it may be worth inquiring about adding the coverage.

Mine subsidence insurance coverage

Mine subsidence insurance coverage may vary depending on what state you reside in and the insurance companies writing the policy. In general, the policy includes a deductible but offers coverage up to a specific limit as stated in the policy. Most states offer a minimum amount to maximum amount of coverage. For example, in Illinois you can purchase up to $750,000 in coverage.

Where can I get mine subsidence insurance?

If you live in an area prone to mine subsidence, then a licensed insurance agent can assist with options for purchasing this additional policy. Most homeowners who need this insurance can purchase it either through their current insurance provider or through a government site.

Some states, such as Pennsylvania, give residents the option to purchase through their own government site. This can be completed directly by residents or through a licensed insurance agent in the state. It should be noted that although the coverage is offered through the state of Pennsylvania, it is a voluntary coverage.

Other states, such as Illinois and West Virginia, require all homeowners insurance providers in the state to offer mine subsidence insurance coverage in the affected counties. In Illinois, there are 34 counties where the insurance coverage must be automatically included in homeowners policies. If you are not a resident of one of these counties, then you can inquire about adding it to your homeowners policy through your own carrier.

How much does mine subsidence insurance cost?

Rates vary for mine subsidence coverage, depending on the insurance limits you choose and the state you are purchasing in. You may first want to double check your current homeowners policy does not automatically include the coverage, and again, a licensed insurance agent can provide more exact quotes based on your information.

Using Pennsylvania as an example, there are policies available through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for purchase. The coverage cost is listed as 27 cents per $1,000 purchased in coverage. A policy with $200,000 of coverage towards damage as a result of mine subsidence is estimated to cost around $54 per year. There is typically a limit in the amount of coverage you can purchase, and in Pennsylvania the coverage can not exceed $1,000,000.

Frequently asked questions

    • Historically, mining activity has occurred across the United States, but there are some areas in which mining has been significantly more prevalent. According to the EPA, the agency has identified a total of 33 states where there are abandoned mines. However, there are certain states that have a higher chance of homes being built near abandoned clay and coal mines, which comes with a higher risk of mine subsidence. These states include Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming.
    • The minimum deductible for mine subsidence insurance varies depending upon the state the policy is written in. For example, in West Virginia the deductibles range from $250 to $500. The deductible is the out of pocket cost a homeowner would have to pay when filing a damage claim as a result of damage due to mine subsidence.
    • When purchasing a home, the seller, or property owners, may be required by law to disclose the property is affected by mine subsidence. If a disclosure is not available, some states offer search options online where you can put in your exact location and find out if your property is affected. Or, if you live in an area that is prone to mine subsidence, you may want to look for signs of the problem. In many cases, the first signs of damage could be cracks in the foundation and sagging walls. Other common signs are uneven floors, doors and windows, and shifting walls. Damage to the electrical system, including short circuits, could be another sign.