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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Erosion?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Erosion?

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Erosion?
A house fell into Lake Michigan when the ground underneath it eroded. Source:

If your property is damaged by heavy storms, you may want to know if your policy covers the damage sustained to your land. An extreme downpour can result in extensive erosion and damage to the topsoil on your property and require significant repairs to be undertaken.

Unfortunately, many homeowners insurance policies will not cover this repair. In fact, the erosion of soil often falls under events that can be explicitly listed on your policy as uncovered.

Named Exclusions

Most standard homeowners insurance policies will detail specific “named exclusions” that are events to which your coverage does not apply. These lists often include:

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Landslides
  • Sinkholes
  • Eart Movement

The last item on that list, earth movement, would describe erosion, which is why most home insurance wouldn’t cover the repairs needed for your yard in the aftermath of a heavy storm. Despite that, not being able to cover the erosion itself doesn’t mean that you can’t make a claim after a storm hits your property hard. However, you do have to look into the exact details of your policy to know for sure.

Retaining Wall

Homeowners insurance policies will include coverage for structure independent of the home. Most times, people would think of structures like free-standing sheds, fences, and pools. A retaining wall may be covered as well; it just depends on the policy.

This coverage will generally have a limit of up to 10% of the total replacement cost of the policy, which could go a long way to repairing a retaining wall that’s essential for maintaining the stability of your property. However, retaining walls can be detailed among named exclusions, so it’s important that you check your specific policy.

Additionally, some insurance companies may cover retaining walls but have additional caveats; although your home might be covered from wind damage, your insurer could have a stipulation that an otherwise-covered retaining wall would not be. 

Other exclusions could include damage as the result of:

  • Animal activity
  • Sewage back-ups
  • Ice freezing and expanding in the wall, leaving cracks behind
  • Water damage
  • Sediment settling

A retaining wall can be an important part of preventing erosion in the future, so if it’s damaged during a storm, it needs to be repaired so that the next storm doesn’t have even more disastrous results. Be prepared for any costs and maintenance that needs to be done on your retaining wall before there’s damage if you have any reason to suspect your home is at risk for erosion.

Why Is Erosion Coverage Not In My Policy?

Most areas at risk for erosion have issues with frequent flooding and are eligible for the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This program provides price-controlled flood insurance for areas where homes have shown to be at risk for flooding on a regular basis.

Since standard home insurance doesn’t cover damage from floods, and NFIP policies do cover erosion from flooding, there’s little demand or market for specific erosion coverage. Home insurance companies don’t offer the coverage as there isn’t an attractive profit margin for them.

If you live in an area covered by NFIP and you have that or other flood insurance, the repair for erosion on your property will be covered by that policy instead of your standard home insurance. Damage to your retaining wall that results from flooding, and not poor maintenance, will be covered as well.

On the other hand, if you live in an area not covered by NFIP and want financial protection in the event of erosions on your property, you should consider adding private insurance coverage for mudflow to your homeowners insurance policy. Also, make sure to take preventative steps like having your retaining wall inspected and maintained to minimize and future erosion in your property.

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