Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Erosion?

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  • Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Erosion?

Erosion occurs when natural forces, like wind or rain, wear down materials. It can move and shape the earth and the effects this process has can be a sight to behold when looking at a wonder like the Grand Canyon. But, when erosion occurs on your property, it’s not so breathtaking.

Erosion can damage features in your yard, like a fence or shed. Or, it could affect the structural integrity of your home by moving the earth under your house. If you live on the water, erosion could even take away parts of your backyard!

When your property is altered by erosion, will your homeowners insurance chip in to pay for repairs? Let’s take a closer look.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Erosion?

Unfortunately, your homeowners insurance will likely not cover damages caused by erosion. The most common type of homeowners insurance policy is the HO-3 special form, which covers your house and many external detached structures on your property, like a shed, fence or retaining wall.

If one of these external structures was damaged by erosion, you may feel that you are entitled to compensation because of your coverage.

For example, if a mound of topsoil was carried down your property by rain and collapsed your fence, or if sand that was carried by heavy winds wore away your retaining wall to make it unfunctional, you may think you have a case.

But, the HO-3 special form provides coverage from a list of named perils. These perils are:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Frozen Pipes
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Rioting or civil disturbances
  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail, such as a hurricane or tornado
  • Damage from smoke
  • Damage caused by heating, air conditioning or plumbing
  • Damage due to snow, ice or sleet
  • Damage from water heater, including cracks, burns or tears
  • Damage from electrical currents, such as downed power lines
  • Explosions
  • Falling Objects
  • Volcanic Eruptions

Erosion is not listed in the named perils, so damage it does to your home or property isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance. 

Earthquakes, erosion, sinkholes and landslides are classified as “earth movements,” and are not typically covered in a homeowners plan. This is because they don’t happen frequently enough and they’re too unexpected and costly to be calculated consistently into a premium.

It’s easier to account for events that happen more often and are not as catastrophic, like lightning strikes or theft.

It’s also difficult to predict how erosion will manifest itself. The earth under your home could sink, shift, or expand. This could be the result of several natural forces and could happen over time or all at once. This could affect your home in a variety of ways, which makes it hard to account for. 

The most devastating effects of erosion can be caused by excessive water, like a flood or storm surge, which homeowners policies also do not cover. The government offers flood insurance to the public through the National Flood Insurance Program, and anyone in one of the 23,000 participating NFIP communities is eligible to get it. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners. 

What Is DIC Insurance?

There is a type of policy that protects damage caused by erosions: a Difference in Conditions (DIC) policy, which is a specific type of coverage for perils not named in homeowners insurance. It covers the gaps in normal homeowners plans, which would include things like erosion.

However, the average person may not need DIC. For most, the combination of your homeowners and flood policies will cover you in case of disaster. DIC is mainly for large commercial businesses that have valuable assets in areas prone to serious natural events that their policies do not or will not cover.

DIC insurance usually has higher deductibles that these businesses are willing to pay. These deductibles can apply to each building, each asset, or each location of a business, which can get costly.

How To Stop Erosion in Your Yard

While your homeowners insurance may not be there to help cover erosion on your property, there are some measures you can take to stop it beforehand or minimize its effects.

Plant To Your Advantage

If your property is on a hill or incline, this is especially important. Runoff could carry your topsoil down the gradient toward the bottom. A way to prevent this is to plant trees and shrubs on a slope.

Plants can reduce soil erosion on the surface by halting and absorbing moving water. Also, plant roots hold soil in place. In addition to helping with erosion, gardening can help with physical and mental health

Physical Features

If you don’t have any in your yard yet, certain non-natural features can help prevent erosion. Retaining walls can break your land into terraces, which stabilizes soil and levels the ground.

Also, temporary fixtures like plastic sheets or mesh coverings over at-risk areas of your yard before a storm can mitigate erosion issues.

It's Time to Switch Your Homeowners Insurance

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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