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Landslide Insurance and High-Risk Areas

April 11, 2014

HillsideThe employees of the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the community of Oso and its surrounding areas as well as the families, friends, and neighbors of those who were lost in the tragic landslide on March 22, 2014. If you would like to make a donation, has listed some charities and benefits taking contributions. Please keep in mind that scammers do pose as charities, so please donate wisely.

We would also like to thank the first responders and everyone involved in the search and rescue efforts and the ensuing clean up. This is a monumental task, and everyone has worked tirelessly to help a community heal.

The tragic landslide is another reminder for home and business owners to consider special insurance coverage. The Northwest Insurance Council has given WSRB permission to repost the following article from their website. Please visit for more information.


SEATTLE –   Saturday’s massive landslide in Oso, Washington happened within days of last year’s Whidbey Island Landslide anniversary.  In the aftermath, NW Insurance Council reminds homeowners and business owners to consider special coverage for landslide and mudflow damage. Homeowners who purchased additional landslide insurance prior to the slide will have coverage to rebuild their homes.

“This is a very sad time for the Oso community and our thoughts and prayers are with them, said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “The scope of the devastation 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.”

Standard Homeowners and Business Insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by earth movement such as a landslide. Special coverage for landslides is available as a stand-alone policy 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.

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.

Due to the additional cost, some may be tempted to rely on Federal aid for disaster recovery.  However, Federal aid following a disaster often comes in the form of low-interest loans. These loan payments are due in addition to your existing mortgage.

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 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


For additional information on disaster preparedness, please also visit the Disaster Preparedness section on our blog. We would like to thank Karl Newman, Sandi Henke, and the Northwest Insurance Council for letting us use this information. To read the post in its entirety, please click here. This post also appears in the latest edition of the IIABW newsletter.

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