Standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover landslides

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. - Insurance industry leaders say the Oso landslide points to the need for more homeowners in slide-prone areas to buy landslide insurance.

Karl Newman of the Northwest Insurance Council says of the more than 1.5 million single-family homes in Washington, around 4,700 have special coverage.

Because of all the hills in the area, he estimates thousands more might need it.

"It's a stark reminder that you need special coverage to rebuild your home should you be involved in a landslide," Newman told KIRO 7.

Newman said it's too early to know what kind of coverage the residents of Steelhead Drive in Oso had, but he thinks most carried standard homeowners policies.

And, he warns, those standard policies don't cover landslides.

Newman says homeowners in slide zones should consider what's called a "difference in conditions policy,"  which can also include coverage for earthquakes, floods, landslides and mudflow, all events not covered by standard policies.

Extra coverage isn't cheap, and needs to be purchased through specialized brokers.

To rebuild a $300,000 structure, Newman said the annual premium is more than $1,000.

That's on top of the standard annual insurance cost, which averages $595 in Washington.