Live on or near a hillside in the soggy Northwest? Check your homeowners insurance

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Whether it's slow-moving or sudden, a land or mudslide can result in major devastation to your home. But standard insurance will not cover the loss.

"Homeowners insurance policies are really designed to protect you against known and expected perils, things like theft and fire and windstorms," explained NW Insurance Council President Kenton Brine.

Damage from landslides, mudslides, even sinkholes requires a special insurance policy called Difference In Conditions.

"That's a policy that specifically is written to cover certain kinds of threats related to earth movement," said Brine.

Difference In Conditions policies cover property damage, clean-up, and personal belongings lost or damaged by a slide.

The deductibles for DIC Insurance are high- typically 5% to 20% of your home's replacement cost.

The annual premium depends on your home and location.

"And it can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year, much like a standard homeowners policy, to several thousand dollars a year, depending on your risk."

The key, said Brine, is to talk to your insurance representative to make sure you understand what your current insurance coverage provides.

"Ask these questions," Brine instructed. "What happens if a tree falls down? What happens if a windstorm knocks a window out and I have rain coming inside the house? What happens if there's a landslide or a sinkhole? Am I covered for those things.?"

As with earthquake and flood insurance, you cannot buy Difference In Conditions insurance once a landslide threat is at your door. So, if you live in a slide-prone area, contact your insurance company and review your options before the earth starts to move.

Also be aware that if you live near hills where new clearing and development are taking place- that new development might increase the chance of erosion or slide conditions around your property.

So again, pay attention to the topography near your home and be clear about your coverage.

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