Landslide on Whidbey Island a reminder that earth movement is excluded from home, business insurance

Last week's landslide on Whidbey Island that damaged one home and threatened or isolated more than 30 others, NW Insurance Council reminds homeowners and business owners that standard Homeowners and Business Insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by earth movement such as a landslide.

Special coverage for landslides is available for an additional cost. 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. 
Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Natural
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This very unfortunate situation really highlights the need for special insurance if you own property above or below a steep slope.  Property owners in high-risk areas need special coverage that is not included in a standard home or business insurance policy.  The good news is that coverage is available through specialty carriers at an additional cost.

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

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.

If you live in a high-risk area, there are several things you can do to 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.  NW Insurance Council offers free downloadable Home Inventory Software from the Insurance Information Institute. 
  • Damage to vehicles caused by landslide 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 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 landslide, contact the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.



Spring home maintenance can prevent damage your insurance won’t cover

Spring is just around the corner and for many that signals the start of outdoor projects to enhance lawns, gardens and home exteriors. 

Spring also is an ideal time to inspect in and around your home for wear and tear and safety hazards.  From cracked foundations to clogged gutters to worn shingles, improperly maintained homes can lead to expensive repairs down the road – and many of those repairs are not covered by your Homeowners Insurance.
Homeowners Insurance is designed to protect you from sudden and accidental losses such as fire, windstorm, theft or a broken water pipe. It’s not intended to cover maintenance-related issues such as water damage from a leaky roof or a cracked foundation.  Each homeowner is responsible for conducting regular preventive maintenance.

NW Insurance Counciloffers the following tips to help you conduct home exterior maintenance and reduce safety hazards.
  • Check and clean gutters to prevent water from backing up into your attic.
  • Check the roof.  Look for worn, curled or missing shingles and replace them.
  • Repair loose or damaged siding.
  • Examine soffit boards (horizontal surfaces under eaves).
  • Make sure downspouts slope away from the home and carry water at least five feet from the foundation walls.
  • Have a professional inspect your air conditioning system.
  • Make sure sprinkler heads are directed away from the house to prevent water build-up near foundation walls.
  • Remove clutter from storage areas to reduce fire hazards.
  • Examine decks, porches and balconies for weak or broken railings and posts.  Railings should be spaced no more than four inches apart to prevent children from slipping through.
  • Caulk and reseal window and door flashing, seals or weather stripping.
  • Check the attic for moisture and surface discoloration.
  • Check fire extinguishers in your kitchen and garage to make sure they are full and work properly.
  • Install special outlets equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters when outdoor electrical outlets are located near water sources.
  • Be sure exterior walls are well painted and sealed.
  • Inspect your lawn for rocks or other objects that could be launched from your lawnmower and injure others or damage property.
  • Contact your insurance company or agent to review your Homeowners policy to be sure you have the coverage you want and need.
To order a free copy of our Maintenance Guide for Your Home, call NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.  For more information about insurance, visit

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

Expensive holiday gifts and insurance

Are you insured? Expensive holiday gifts may require special insurance

The holidays are over and you may have received a beautiful new necklace, a piece of fine art, a new musical instrument or other high-value gift. You’ll want to enjoy your gifts for years to come, so it’s important to protect them from possible losses, such as theft or fire, by evaluating your insurance coverage.

Most homeowner’s policies have coverage for personal belongings. However, for items of special value such as jewelry, musical instruments, coins or fine arts, the included coverage is limited and may not meet your needs.

Standard Homeowners Insurance generally protects against loss of high-value items from causes such as fire, theft and other disasters up to a relatively small amount. Jewelry, fine art, furs, musical instruments and other expensive belongings typically have $1,000 to $2,500 worth of coverage, depending on your policy.

To protect your high-dollar items for their full value you can purchase special coverage in addition to your Homeowners or Renters Insurance, called a Floater or Endorsement. Floaters and Endorsements have no deductible and often include the option to replace the item in the event of a loss.

NW Insurance Council and the Insurance Information Institute offer the following consumer tips to help you enjoy your expensive gifts for years to come:
·       Contact your insurance company or agent to find out how much coverage you have under your currently policy and if additional insurance is needed to cover your expensive item or items.
·       Find a reputable appraiser to determine the dollar value of expensive items such as antiques, fine art and jewelry. The premium for an Endorsement is based on the appraised value. If you have a claim you will be compensated for the most recent appraised value.
·       Examine your jewelry periodically for signs of damage or loose stones and have your jewelry cleaned and checked annually. Many jewelers guarantee the safety of a stone if you have regular checkups. Also, store your jewelry in a safe place such as a safe deposit box.
·       Keep a video, photographic and written inventory of all personal property, including high-value items, and keep receipts.  This simplifies your insurance claim if you have a loss. 
·       You can access free, downloadable Home Inventory Software at NW Insurance Council’s website.

For more information on how to protect your valuables, visit NW Insurance Council or call
(800) 664-4942.

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