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.