Landslides & Sinkholes

Posted on March 16, 2018 at 10:05 AM

Concerned about landslides, mudslides or sinkholes from heavy rains? If you're at risk, you need special coverage

SEATTLE, October 20, 2017 Fall and Winter often brings heavy rains to the Pacific Northwest, posing significant landslide and mudslide risks to homeowners and business owners. 

If you live in a landslide-prone area, it's important to review your insurance policies and consider available coverages like “Difference In Conditions” and Comprehensive Auto coverage, as well as flood insurance – because damage from floods and earth movement, including landslides, mudflow and sinkholes, is not covered under standard home or business insurance policies.

Additional coverage for earth movement or flood damage is available for homes and businesses in most areas, at varying costs. As with all of your insurance policies, understanding what is and is not covered is a key first step toward protecting your property before a disaster strikes. 

“Standard home and business owner policies can help people recover from a variety of perils, like theft, fire and damage from windstorms, but not earth movement and exterior flooding,” said Kenton  Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “Now – before you suffer a loss – is the time to learn more about the insurance that could help you rebuild your home or business, or repair or replace your vehicle after a landslide or flood.”

Standard Homeowners and Business Insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by earth movement such as a landslide or mudflow. Special coverage for earth movement - called a “Difference in Conditions” policy - is available for purchase as a stand-alone policy for businesses and residential policies, usually from a specialty lines broker.

A Difference in Conditions policy can be written to include coverage for landslide, mudflow, earthquake and even flood damage.  Depending on risk factors, such as the slope of your property or proximity to a cliff, a homeowner can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per year.

Coverage for flood and mudflow also is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) but comes with a 30-day waiting period before the Flood Insurance Policy goes into effect.

Some homeowners may hope to avoid the added cost of this coverage and rely instead on Federal aid for disaster recovery. In most cases, however, disaster aid comes in the form of low-interest loans, which must be repaid on top of your existing mortgage.

If you live in a high-risk area, there are several things you can do to prepare for and protect yourself from landslides.  NW Insurance Council offers 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.  Many insurance companies offer mobile apps to help you track your home inventory.
  • Damage to vehicles caused by landslide or flooding is covered if the owner has chosen optional Comprehensive Coverage in the auto policy.
  • Personal contents inside a vehicle that are damaged by a landslide are not covered under standard Homeowners or Renters insurance. 
  • 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 disasters, contact the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, insurer-supported organization providing information about home, auto, business and personal insurance to consumers, media and public policymakers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.


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