Insurance questions and answers in the wake of the Oso landslide

Insurance questions and answers in the wake of the Oso landslide

Credit: KING

Insurance questions and answers in the wake of the Oso landslide

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by ELIZABETH WEISE / USA TODAY

KING5.com

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 9:46 AM

Q: Why doesn’t a standard homeowner insurance policy cover this type of loss?
 
A: The standard homeowners insurance policy covers fire, windstorms and other typical risks faced by the majority of homes. Companies do not include landslides in the standard home policy because if they did, they would be requiring people who have chosen to live in safer areas to subsidize those who live in riskier places, said Karl Newman, president of the Northwest Insurance Council in Seattle.


 
Q: What insurance covers landslides?

A: The only type of insurance policy that covers landslides is called a Difference In Condition policy. These also cover mudflow, earthquakes and flooding, Newman said.


 
Q: How much do they cost?

A: A typical single-family home insurance policy in Washington state costs $595 per year, Newman said. For a home that would cost $300,000 to rebuild, a Difference in Condition policy would cost about $1,000 per year on top of the regular insurance policy, “depending on the proximity to a cliff and the steepness of the slope above or below your property,” he said.


 
Q: Did anyone in Oso have that type of policy?

A: We don’t know, Newman said.


 
Q: How common are Difference in Condition policies?

A: They are very rare for homeowners to purchase. In Washington state there are more than 1.5 million single family homes. There are only 4,700 Difference in Conditions policies in the entire state, and that includes businesses as well as homes, Newman said.


 
Q: Are they recommended?

A: “Clearly while are a large number of homes that aren’t above a steep slope, there are thousand that are. We serious recommend that folks take the time to find out about this coverage,” Newman said.


 
Q: Will FEMA help?

A: No. FEMA can get you a low interest loan but it won’t help you rebuild your house.

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