Mudslides are responsible for between $1 billion and $2 billion worth of damage in the United States each year. With little notice, they can destroy homes, take out entire neighborhoods, and threaten the lives of people caught in their wake. If you live in an area surrounded by large hills or mountainsides, you may occasionally worry about the threat of a mudslide and wonder whether damage from the slide would be covered by your insurance company. While some mud damage is covered by insurance, it depends on a few important factors.
Whether or not your flood insurance will cover a mudslide depends on how the mud travels into your home. If the mud is carried by a river or stream, known as a mudflow, it will be a covered event. Mudslides that occur from earth movement, such as a saturated hillside, fall into the landslide category and are not usually covered by traditional flood insurance policies.
If the area in which you live has been recently affected by wildfires that burned away vegetation and left the soil loose, there is a better chance that your mudslide damage will be covered. In these instances, the mudslide is considered an aftereffect of the fire, as it left the hillsides vulnerable to flowing sediment.
To be fully protected against mudslides and landslides, you would need landslide insurance. The premiums on landslide insurance are expensive, but can offer peace of mind to homeowners concerned about losing their homes in a slide. Many insurers won't provide policies to residents of high-risk areas, so it may not be available to those who need it most. In fact, some insurers won't provide policies in neighborhoods where there has been a previous landslide event.
Although standard insurance may not protect you from all types of mudslide damage, there are things you can do yourself to protect you home and personal belongings from mud damage. Planting vegetation along hillsides, constructing retaining walls, or adding deflection walls to redirect mud around your property are a few steps you can take -- but if your deflection walls redirect mud flow into your neighbor's property, you could be held liable for damages.
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