Homeowners insurance does not cover earth movements, including landslides.
Currently, insurance for landslides (often referred to as land movements) is not provided by homeowners’ insurance, as landslides are considered earth movements. Allegheny County also does not require homeowners to have landslide insurance, though the county is one of the most landslide prone regions in the country. Earlier this year (2018), FEMA denied a request from the city to provide disaster relief because their policy more specifically provides relief for singular events that affect an area. And though the city experienced increased rainfall, there was no singular event to which they could point to as being the catalyst for the landslide damages.
In fact, if your property is damaged by a landslide, there is a low probability that you will receive any significant compensation for the damages from the city or county, unless you are willing to enter into a litigation process that will likely take years to resolve. If the landslide also affects the properties of your neighbors, you may have a higher likelihood of successfully submitting an insurance claim. However, the circumstances that must work in your favor are very specific, such as having a neighbor’s property cause damage on your own, or vice versa. Unfortunately, the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County do not have unified standards and protocols for dealing with landslide damages. So legally, you should be familiar with the codes for your municipality and how they may affect your coverage options.
If you are interested in purchasing landslide insurance, you will likely either need a comprehensive coverage plan that will be significantly more expensive than a basic policy, or you may need to seek out an insurance company that specializes in covering landslides and/or other acts not typically covered by homeowners’ insurance. To acquire landslide insurance, contact your local insurance agent. Typically recommended policies will include: catastrophic policies, difference in condition policies (DIC), and some flood insurance policies. In regards to automobile insurance, comprehensive policies will
Here are some helpful guidelines for preemptively dealing with landslides:
Learn about the geology and the possibility of landslides in your area
Avoid land alterations that might increase instability, such as undercutting a steep bank
Do not build near the top or base of steep slopes, or place fill on steep slopes
Do not drain pools, redirect streams or otherwise increase water flow down steep slopes
Look for signs of potential failure in your locality, such as slope cracks, slope bulges, sunken road beds, unusual seepage of water on the slope, and small rock or sediment falls
Have a geological inspector survey the land, ideally before completing your purchase of property, to warn you of any questionable or unsafe areas within the property’s grounds
Have a plan and an emergency kit ready, in case of a landslide
Because the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have a greater likelihood of landslides and landslide damages in the future, the best way to help yourself and others in your community is to contact your local representative and have them advocate to the city and state of your behalf.