After the Bighorn Fire, are mudslides covered by insurance?

Updated: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:33 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Monsoon is here, already bringing severe weather. Coupled with the Bighorn Fire burn scar, those heavy rains could spell disaster. We asked an expert which mud messes are covered by insurance.

Aris Papadopoulos is the founder of the Resilience Action Fund, which helps Americans protect themselves, their homes, and their livelihoods from disasters. He’s a former builder, 9/11 survivor, and author of “Resilience, the Ultimate Sustainability.”

He says, first, it’s important to know the difference between a “mudslide” and a “mudflow.”

“the scarred area can become loose and rain can make a mudflow,” Papadopoulos said. “But a mudslide is something closer to a landslide…it’s like moist soil that’s flowing.”

Papadopoulos compares a mudslide to a crumbly cake, whereas a mudflow is more like a milkshake.

The thing is: one is covered - the other isn’t. So, the difference is important to your insurance company.

A mudflow is covered by flood insurance. It’s mostly water, that can seep into your house. Still, an inch of water can cause $10,000 in damage, so at $500 to a thousand dollars a year, FEMA flood insurance can be worth it.

On the other hand, A mudslide comes from earth movement - like an earthquake.

”We pretty much know when the earth is moving and when water is flowing off these burned areas on the slopes would pick up mud and stones. Now, if the whole side of the mountain slides down, that’s a landslide and that won’t be covered,” Papadopoulos said.

Flood and homeowners’ policies do not cover mudslides. However, you can buy what’s called a “Difference in Conditions” or “DIC” policy for them.

Your car is a different story. It’s covered, if you have optional comprehensive coverage.

The waters get even more muddy when you bring a wildfire into the equation. If a mudslide or mudflow happens as a direct result of a wildfire,where trees and plants were damaged, for instance, and your area never has experienced flooding or mud problems, your home insurance claim may be covered as a fire loss. But you’d have to prove that if the fire hadn’t happened, the flood and mud wouldn’t have, either. Taking photos - safely - can save you a lot of trouble.There are things you can do to protect your home: planting trees and shrubs, sandbagging, building a channel or retaining wall.

When you take these steps, know that if you divert the mess to your neighbor, you may be responsible for the damage. You can read more HERE.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.