Does home insurance cover subsidence?

Subsidence typically isn’t covered by standard homeowners insurance, but some state governments and private insurers provide mine subsidence coverage for at-risk properties.

Stephanie Nieves author photoKara McGinley

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Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Editor & Home and Auto Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is a former editor and insurance expert at Policygenius, where she covered home and auto insurance. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Money, HerMoney, PayScale, and The Muse.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover earth movement of any type, including damage caused by subsidence. However, mine subsidence — the most common type of subsidence homeowners tend to deal with — can be covered with mine subsidence insurance. This can be a separate policy or may be offered as an endorsement by your homeowners insurance company.

In some areas, insurance companies may even be required to include mine subsidence coverage in homeowners insurance policies. In 34 Illinois counties, for example, insurance companies must provide mine subsidence coverage to residents. [1]

Key takeaways

  • Damage due to subsidence is not covered by standard homeowners insurance, but additional coverage may be available.

  • Mine subsidence is the most common type of subsidence that homeowners tend to deal with. 

  • You may be able to purchase mine subsidence coverage by contacting your state’s subsidence insurance program or your current insurer.

  • Mine subsidence coverage generally pays for damage caused by underground mines and mine water breakouts, but eligible structures and coverage limits vary by state.

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What is subsidence?

Subsidence is the gradual sinking or vertical collapse of the ground’s surface beneath a structure — picture a leveled home caving into the land beneath it. 

Common causes of subsidence include:

  • Underground mining for oil and water

  • Underground collapsing of coal or clay mines

  • Fissuring limestone and underground caverns

  • Diminishing soil lying beneath the ground’s surface level

At least 45 states have been affected by subsidence spanning more than 17,000 square miles across the country, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. [2] Most land subsidence is caused by large volumes of water or oil being extracted from nearby sources.

Is subsidence covered by home insurance?

No — subsidence is considered an “earth movement,” which is specifically excluded from homeowners insurance coverage. Most policies also don't cover earthquakes, sinkholes, or landslides either.

If you’re at risk for subsidence damage, you’ll need mine subsidence insurance. Eight states currently have mine subsidence insurance programs where coverage is available through state agencies or insurance companies that are mandated by law to offer subsidence coverage. 

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What is mine subsidence insurance?

Mine subsidence insurance is an insurance policy that covers damage caused by land subsidence. If you currently live above a mine or near mining activity, you may be able to get mine subsidence coverage through your home insurer. Otherwise, you can contact your state’s government agency to discuss your options.

Mine subsidence coverage is widely available in eight subsidence-prone states, including: 

  • Colorado

  • Illinois 

  • Indiana

  • Kentucky 

  • Ohio 

  • Pennsylvania

  • West Virginia

  • Wyoming

Coverage may be offered by both private carriers and state subsidence insurance programs, depending on your state. 

In Pennsylvania, for instance, where many homes and commercial properties are located above underground coal and clay mines, mine subsidence coverage is offered through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. In Indiana, you can get mine subsidence coverage through the Indiana Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund if you live in certain counties.

Specific structures covered by mine subsidence insurance vary based on where you live.

For example, mine subsidence coverage in Pennsylvania covers buildings, but not the land or your personal items. And the Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance Underwriting Association offers coverage for your house, but not separate structures on your property like your garage or shed.

How much mine subsidence coverage should I buy?

Mine subsidence coverage limits vary depending on the state you live in and your policy terms and conditions. However, most homeowners can get anywhere between $5,000 to $500,000 in coverage. Experts recommend selecting coverage limits equal to your home’s replacement cost — plus 20% more for associated losses. [3]

The cost of a mine subsidence policy varies by state and how much coverage you purchase. In Illinois, it costs an average of $71 per year for $200,000 in mine subsidence coverage. [4]

Looking for subsidence coverage? Policygenius can help.

A licensed Policygenius agent can look into whether your current homeowners insurance company offers mine subsidence coverage as a coverage add-on. If your insurer doesn’t offer mine subsidence coverage, other mine subsidence coverage options may be available through your state. 

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Frequently asked questions

What happens if my house has subsidence?

Subsidence is when the ground starts to sink and collapse. If your house has subsidence, you’ll likely notice uneven floors and walls, as well as cracking and structural damage. None of this is covered by a standard homeowners policy, unless you have mine subsidence coverage.

Does homeowners insurance cover structural defects?

No, homeowners insurance only covers damage caused by covered perils, like fire and windstorms. Structural defects, wear and tear, maintenance issues, and gradual damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

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  1. Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund

    . "

    How to Obtain Mine Subsidence Insurance

    ." Accessed March 04, 2022.

  2. U.S. Geological Survey

    . "

    Land Subsidence

    ." Accessed March 04, 2022.

  3. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

    . "

    Mine Subsidence Insurance

    ." Accessed March 04, 2022.

  4. Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund

    . "

    Frequently asked questions

    ." Accessed March 04, 2022.

Authors

Editor & Home and Auto Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Editor & Home and Auto Insurance Expert

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Stephanie Nieves is a former editor and insurance expert at Policygenius, where she covered home and auto insurance. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Money, HerMoney, PayScale, and The Muse.

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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