If the Earth Moves Under Your Feet, Are You Covered?

Can you imagine the shock of having the ground literally fall out from under you? Recent incidents in Florida and Illinois prove it can happen to anyone, anywhere. Those incidents were caused by sinkholes but that’s not the only reason the earth could move under your feet and damage your property.

  • Earthquakes. There are many definitions but the most common relates to a tremor of the earth’s surface caused by a shift in the earth’s tectonic plates, usually along fault lines. Typically the more severe the “slippage” in the earth’s plates, the more severe the tremors can be, which results in more property damage. This often depends on the proximity to populated areas.
  • Sinkholes. State legislatures have defined this in various ways. Sinkhole collapse generally means actual physical damage caused by sudden settlement or collapse of the earth supporting the property. The settlement or collapse results from subterranean voids created by the action of water on limestone or similar rock formations. Traditionally, this was something that occurred in southern states such as Florida. However, more recently sinkholes have been appearing in many areas. Some have been just large enough for a person to fall into while others are large enough to swallow a house.
  • Mine subsidence. This is generally defined as the lateral or vertical ground movement resulting from the collapse of man-made, underground mines including but not limited to coal, clay, limestone, and fluorspar mines which directly damages structures.

Since your home is likely your single largest investment, earth movement should be a cause for concern. Whether or not you can purchase insurance coverage for your home for these three events can vary greatly depending on your geographical location. The standard homeowners coverage form does not automatically provide coverage for losses due to earthquake, sinkholes, or mine subsidence. However, many states have passed laws that require carriers to offer one or more of these coverages. The “slippery slope” from a coverage standpoint is knowing what is required or available in your area.

Carriers who offer these coverages usually do so for an additional premium. In some cases, the coverage may not be available through your carrier but may be available through the state. Since there can be such a variation in exposure to earthquake, sinkholes, and mine subsidence, your best bet is to check with your local independent insurance agent to see what is available and required in your area. Also, many state insurance departments have websites explaining what the state requires in these instances.

Make sure you’re on solid ground – check with your independent insurance agent to see what type of coverage is available to you.

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