Consumer tips
Home insurance

Minimize landslide risks on your property

When you think "natural disaster," windstorms, floods, and even wildfires likely come to mind. But another danger may be lurking right under your feet. Landslides cause more than $1 billion in property damage every year in the United States.

Do you know how to minimize your risks? And if the worst does happen, do you understand what is and isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance?

Don’t trigger a landslide

While record-breaking rainstorms and rapid snowmelt often prompt landslides, man-made conditions can set the stage. To make slopes less vulnerable:

  • Channel water from surface runoff, downspouts, and driveways AWAY from slopes and into storm drains or natural drainages.

  • Maintain water and sewer lines to prevent leaks.

  • Minimize irrigation on and above slopes.

  • Don’t excavate dirt and rocks from the base of slopes.

  • Don’t dump fill dirt at the top or sides of slopes

  • Plant groundcover with deep roots on slopes.

  • Build retaining walls at the base of slopes.

We can help you find coverage

Like virtually all homeowners policies sold in the United States, your PEMCO policy generally excludes coverage for landslides. We can pay to repair your home only if the damage resulted from a covered loss.

You don’t have to go it alone, though. If you’re concerned about landslides, call us. We can help you find coverage (called a “Difference in Conditions” policy) through another company that specializes in that risk. Policies vary, but they typically offer all-in-one coverage for landslides, mudflows, earthquakes, and floods. Based on your risk (proximity to a cliff, the degree of slope on your property), you could expect to pay $1,000 or more per year to cover a $300,000 home. To learn more about a Difference in Conditions policy, call 1-800-GO-PEMCO or contact your local PEMCO agent.

Tipoffs to trouble

Don’t ignore these warning signs of soil instability:

  • Arc-shaped cracks in the ground

  • Leaning trees, fence posts, or utility poles

  • Trees with bent trunks at the base (indicating the tree has adjusted its growth to remain upright on slowly shifting soil)

  • Large open cracks in retaining walls, driveways, and sidewalks

  • Sagging decks

  • Doors or windows that stick or jam

  • Cracks in plaster or tile

  • Concrete stairs pulling away from the building

  • Bulging ground at the base of a slope

A geotechnical engineer or qualified engineering geologist can help you assess the likelihood of a damaging slide. For help in finding an expert, contact the State Department of Ecology or your local extension office or public works department.

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