The definition of a mudslide is “rapid downward movement of large quantity of saturated earth or rock.” Mudflow is defined as “a flow of soil or fine-grained sediment mixed with water down a steep unstable slope.” In both of these cases, standard Homeowners Insurance policies do not cover mudslides or mudflows, as this coverage is excluded.
National Flood Insurance policies that are administered by the government against losses from flooding, are sometimes required for a loan if the property is located in a community that participates in the NFIP. This program is designed to provide disaster assistance to meet the rising costs of repairing damage to buildings, homes and their contents caused by floods. These policies will typically cover damage from a mudflow but not a mudslide. This can be complicated in determining the difference between the two on the type of loss that occurred. As for mudslides, damage could be covered by an earth-movement policy or an Earthquake Insurance policy but again, it has to be determined at the time of loss if indeed it was a mudslide.
Due to the recent fires, damaged trees, plants and shrubs that were not removed can cause future issues in affected areas. If a mudslide or mudflow were to occur in these affected areas, with no prior flooding or mud issues, your Homeowners Insurance policy may possibly look for coverage under the original fire loss claim. There is no guarantee of coverage, as it has to be proven that if the fire never occurred, the mudslide or mudflow would not have occurred either. It is stated that mudflows are harder to predict than mudslides, as this can be caused by heavy rain, melting snow or other weather related events. If your home is located in an area with hills, steep slopes or has been in a recent wildfire, take the necessary precautions to help avoid mudslides or mudflows. Contact the state’s Geological survey at http://www.stategeologists.org/surveys.php as they can recommend local professionals who can assist with mudslide protection.
Even though mudslides are typically excluded, fortunately for many California homeowners, Insurance Carriers have chosen to cover recent mudslides under “Concurrent Causation”.
Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions or need further information.