Landslides and mud-slides: NOT covered by a standard homeowners policy

Landslides and mud-slides: NOT covered by a standard homeowners policy

The New York Times has an interesting story today about a significant hazard here in the rainy Pacific Northwest: mudslides.

Mudslides and landslides, the article notes, are "a topographical drama less spectacular but far more common than the potentially deadly earthquakes, avalanches and tsunamis that loom in anxious minds across the Pacific Northwest."

And here's what many homeowners don't know: mudslides and landslides aren't covered by a standard homeowners policy. So it can be very difficult to collect for losses caused by any form of land movement unless you bought specific additional riders or policies, like these:

Landslide coverage: You may be able to buy a special rider for your homeowners policy that includes coverage for contents for all perils, including earth movement. But this type of rider only covers contents, not the structure, and some insurers don't offer this option at all. For the structure, you may be able to buy separate earth-movement coverage from what's known as the "surplus lines" market, meaning insurers who specialize in risks that the traditional insurance industry doesn't cover. But if your home is on a hillside, it may be difficult to get this kind of coverage.

Flood insurance: Flood insurance may apply to some kinds of earth movement, such as water-related erosion, mudflows or flash floods. Most homeowners seeking flood coverage start with the National Flood Insurance Program, which is federally run but sold by local agents and brokers.

Earthquakes: Quake damage is another category of risk not covered in a standard homeowners policy, but you can buy this coverage to protect against losses from an earthquake -- or quake-triggered landslides.

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