After the massive landslide on Whidbey Island that impacted dozens of homes, the Northwest Insurance Council has issued a reminder to homeowners and business owners that standard homeowners and business-insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by natural disasters such as landslides.
“This very unfortunate situation really highlights the need for special insurance if you own property above or below a steep slope,” said Karl Newman, the council’s president, in a press release. “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.”
The Northwest Insurance Council, a nonprofit organization funded by member insurance companies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, has more information on disaster plans and special coverage for landslides available on its website.
Along with its reminders, the council offered the following tips to those who own property in high-risk areas:
– 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. The 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 their 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.
No injuries were reported after a large section of a waterfront bluff on Whidbey Island gave way at around 4 a.m. on March 27. But the landslide damaged or isolated multiple homes.
More coverage of the event is available from Whidbey News-Times, a partner publication of The Bellingham Business Journal.