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12/12/2018
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MUDSLIDES - WHAT ARE THEY AND AM I COVERED?

Most Americans only hear about mudslides when watching the evening news. And usually it's in a land far, far away; unless you live in California.

California homeowners know - all too well - about mudslides because so many of their homes are built on hillsides, or atop a hillside; or worse yet, below a hillside.

And California is also known for another natural (and sometimes man-made) disaster known as the wildfire. Wildfires destroy the very vegetation which ordinarily helps keep these hillsides in place. But once the vegetation and it's roots are gone, so is the "glue" that holds the dirt together.

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And so it goes almost every year, after the wildfires have whipped through the land, usually Southern California but not always, it could be Northern California, Oregon, Utah or Colorado, along comes the rain. And with the wet weather comes, you guessed it, floods, mudslides and landslides. These are 3 things that the industry-standard homeowner policy does not cover. Let's repeat for emphasis in case you missed it. Your homeowner's policy, whether it was expensive or very affordable, does not cover damage caused by the perils of flood, mudflow or mudslide, and landslide. For this you would need a Flood Policy.

Unless you have what's known as a "Write-Your-Own" insurance policy, which is unique and usually costly, only the federal government sells a Flood Policy and it's sold through a branch of FEMA called The National Flood Insurance Program.

There is however one catch to all of this. If you look out your window one rainy day and think there's a chance the hillside could collapse, you cannot simply pick up the phone, buy a Flood Policy and go back to sleep thinking you're covered. Be advised, once you buy this flood policy, there is a 30-day waiting period in which there is, you guessed it again, no coverage.

So be prepared. Look over your insurance policy closely and remember: The cheapest insurance is not always the best insurance. Conversely, just because you think you have the best insurance policy money can buy, it may not cover everything as you think it should. Consumers are urged to comparison shop when looking for affordable homeowners insurance and before buying a policy, know what is not covered.

Here is a list of things typically NOT covered by a typical homeowners policy:

  • Mudslide or Mudflow
  • Water damage: Floods
  • Water damage: Sewer and Drain Back-ups
  • Water damage: Water that seeps through foundations
  • Mold, toxic or otherwise
  • Earthquake
  • Earth movement
  • Sinkholes

Other things non-related to this article, such as

  • War, Nuclear Hazard, Power Failure,
  • Changes to Laws or Ordinances that require your house to be brought up to code after a loss and rebuild,
  • Intentional Loss like arson, Governmental Actions,
  • Loss due to bad repair work or faulty zoning, defective construction materials, Power Outage, etc.
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