Landslides are unpredictable. Plus, they make the surrounding area extremely unstable. Because of these facts, and because landslides can cause a lot of costly damage, standard homeowners insurance excludes them as a covered peril. If landslides were included in standard home insurance, the average homeowner would not be able to afford the premiums.

Luckily, there are options for homeowners in this situation. The main one isn’t actually called landslide insurance, however. It’s known as a “difference in conditions” (DIC) policy. Those who live in areas susceptible to landslides or other earth movements should consider a DIC policy. This article will cover:

Why is landslide insurance coverage important?

A standard home insurance policy doesn’t cover landslides. If you live in an area that is prone to landslides, you’ll need extra coverage to protect your home and belongings. This is where a difference in conditions (DIC) policy comes in. DIC policies differ from homeowners insurance policies in that they cover catastrophic events not usually covered by standard homeowners insurance. That includes landslides and mudslides.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a landslide is “caused by the movement of destabilized land — due either to gradual erosion or an accumulation of water.” It’s also considered a type of earth movement, which is excluded from standard homeowners insurance.

So living in an area prone to landslides — such as on or near the side of a cliff or hillside — often warrants buying a difference in conditions policy. This isn’t to say that only certain areas can experience extreme earth movements.

For example, in March 2014, Oso, Wash., experienced one of the most devastating landslides in U.S. history. The prolonged 45-day rainfall there resulted in an unusually heavy run-out of mud and other debris.

Elevated regions such as coastal bluffs and hilly areas with frequent rain are much more likely to need protection from landslides. if you live on flat, arid land, your risk for landslide is minuscule compared to someone living on a hillside.

While a DIC policy is the most popular option for homeowners worried about landslides, you should know it only covers the structure of your home. To cover your belongings in the event of a landslide, you’ll want to look at a contents coverage rider. This is an endorsement that you add onto your home insurance that covers the contents of your home from damage due to covered perils, which include landslides.

What does a DIC policy cover?

A difference in conditions policy covers damage due to many high-risk perils that a standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover, such as:

  • Landslide
  • Mudslide
  • Mudflow
  • Rain runoff
  • Snowmelt
  • Flooding
  • Earthquakes

In terms of coverage specifics, it covers the cost to rebuild the home to its original condition after damage due to the policy’s listed covered perils. It’s important to know that a DIC policy won’t cover the cost to stabilize the ground after a landslide, nor any safety updates that need to be done to prevent future damage.

How much does insurance for landslide coverage cost?

Difference in conditions insurance can be expensive. That’s because the deductibles tied to this type of policy are based on a percentage rather than a fixed dollar amount. They’ll usually equal a percentage of the replacement cost of your home. So if your home’s replacement cost is $300,000 and your DIC policy’s deductible is 5%, you’ll pay $15,000 out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. And that’s just the deductible. Premiums usually cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year, depending on the risk level of the area where the house is located.

While the cost for a DIC policy may be high, it’s still the best game in town. If earth movement coverage was made part of a standard homeowners insurance policy, the price to include coverage for an unpredictable but potentially devastating landslide or other earth movement would make premiums cost-prohibitive to homeowners.

Due to the high cost of difference in conditions insurance, you should check each year to see which company offers the best rates. Due to the competitive nature of the insurance industry, it’s in your best interest to compare quotes from multiple home insurance providers before your policy renewal date anyway. Seeing if you could get a better DIC rate at that time is an easy part of the process.

How do I get landslide insurance coverage?

You can only purchase difference in conditions policies through the surplus lines market, which sells high-risk insurance that standard insurance companies don’t provide. For example, they may sell policies to people who live on steep slopes or in other areas prone to landslides. If you’re not sure how to find a surplus line insurer, check with your state insurance commissioner’s office.

Another option is to talk to someone at your current homeowners insurance company about how you can purchase this kind of policy. They may have recommendations if they provide home insurance coverage in an area prone to landslides.

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