Earth Movement and Homeowners’ Insurance

Almost everyone has head of earthquakes, but not many are familiar with the term “earth movement.” Earthquakes are certainly a form of earth movement, but they are by far not the only type of earth movement that exists. Other natural disasters that fall under this category include mudflows, volcanic eruptions, landslides, shock waves and sinkholes. These types of earth movement activities can take place in rural or urban areas and are much more common than one would imagine. Unfortunately, damage caused by many natural disasters that fall under earth movement is specifically excluded in coverage by most homeowner or renters’ insurance. In order to be protected from earth movement damage and financial loss, one must intentionally seek out additional coverage.

Earth Movement Insurance

Most standard insurance companies offer a-la-carte coverage for different events. These additional “coverages” are called riders. One specific type of rider available in places such as California, Washington and Oregon is an earthquake rider. Typically, however, this type of rider is costly, with an extremely high deductible and no protection at all from damage or loss caused by other types of disastrous earth movement. On the other hand, insurance companies that specialize in these types of events offer a broader earth movement rider which would cover anything from a mudslide to a tectonic shift. Safeguard Insurance is one company that offers earth movement insurance. Their policy may cover your dwelling (home), detached structures, personal possessions, loss of use, demolition and rebuilding costs and more. The deductible for Safeguard Insurance’s earth movement coverage, however, is 15% or higher. Other insurance companies that offer an earth movement coverage rider will protect against loss of personal property, but not against damage or loss to the physical structure.

Finding Earth Movement Insurance

Earth movement insurance is not a type of coverage that is readily available. Carriers that provide this type of coverage are few and far between. In contrast to a Google search for “homeowners insurance,” which results in many competing Web sites from companies trying to sell coverage; a search for “earth movement insurance” delivers results mostly for articles relating to how most policies exclude this type of insurance and how most carriers simply do not offer it. Though difficult to find, this type of coverage is not impossible to secure. First, you may be able to purchase a policy that covers flood-related earth movement under the National Flood Insurance Program. Additionally, you may be able to purchase independent earth movement insurance coverage that includes your home as well as detached structures in the “surplus-lines” market. These specialty insurance agencies are dedicated to insuring risks that the standard insurance companies do not typically get involved with. In order to find and obtain such coverage you may have to go through your agent or broker. But keep in mind, certain conditions may complicate the situation or drive up your costs. For example, if your home is on a hillside, it may be difficult to obtain this kind of coverage.

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