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Contact:
Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
karl.newman@nwinsurance.org
sandi.henke@nwinsurance.org

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Landslide: a special risk that requires special coverage

SEATTLE - Heavy rains can loosen soil and weaken hillsides, posing significant landslide risks to homeowners and business owners.

Standard homeowners and business insurance specifically excludes damage caused by earth movement such as landslide and earthquake.

Homeowners can purchase a Difference in Conditions policy through a surplus-lines carrier as a stand-alone policy.

"Heavy rain can saturate the ground on cliffs and steep slopes, causing the soil to loosen and give way," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "Property owners in high-risk areas need special coverage that is not included in a standard home or business policy. Coverage is available through specialty carriers at an additional cost."

Understanding how your insurance works is a key first step to protecting your property before a disaster strikes.

A Difference in Conditions policy includes coverage for landslide, mudflow, earthquake and flood.

Depending on risk factors, such as the slope of your property or proximity to a cliff, a homeowner with a $300,000 house can expect to pay $1,000 or more per year for this coverage.

Landslides that plunge into rivers and streams can cause flooding. Damage from flood is also excluded from standard home and business insurance policies. Property owners can purchase Flood Insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information.

If you live in a high-risk area, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from landslides and flooding. The NW Insurance Council and NFIP offer the following tips:

  • Create a family evacuation plan.
  • Learn and recognize early landslide warning signs such as: doors or windows that stick or jam, new cracks in plaster, tile, bricks or foundations, broken underground utility lines and bulging ground at the base of a slope.
  • Build retaining walls and install flexible pipe fitting to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Maintain a complete inventory of all your possessions, including photographs, receipts and serial numbers. NW Insurance Council offers free downloadable Home Inventory Software from the Insurance Information Institute
  • Damage to personal contents inside a vehicle is not covered under standard homeowners or renters insurance.
  • Damage to vehicles caused by landslide or flooding is covered if the owner has optional Comprehensive Coverage in the auto policy.
  • If you aren't sure what's covered or have questions regarding your policy, contact your agent or insurance company.

If you'd like more information on how to protect your family and property from landslide and flood, contact the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit www.nwinsurance.org.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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