Does homeowners 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.

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A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover earth movement of any type, including damage caused by subsidence. Damage caused by the “cracking, settling, shifting, or sinking of the earth’s surface” beneath your home or within your property boundaries is listed as an exclusion in standard policies. However mine subsidence, which is the most common type of subsidence homeowners tend to deal with, can be covered with 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 protection. Depending on where you live, 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.

If your home is above an old mine and your state doesn’t have a mine subsidence insurance program, check with your insurance company to see if they offer subsidence coverage that you can add on as a policy endorsement.

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 covers damage caused by underground mines and mine water breakouts, but eligible structures and coverage limits vary from state to state

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

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

Does homeowners insurance cover subsidence damage?

Subsidence is considered an “earth movement”, a peril that is specifically not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Most policies also don't cover earthquakes, sinkholes, landslides, and the like.

Along with mine subsidence, standard homeowner’s insurance also won’t cover damage to your property from the following:

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Mine subsidence insurance: what you need to know

Most land subsidence is caused by human activity, and underground mining is one of them. Mine subsidence insurance is a supplemental 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. Those states include Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kentucky. Coverage may be offered by both private carriers and state subsidence insurance programs, depending on your state. The specific structures covered by mine subsidence insurance will also vary based on where you live.

In Pennsylvania, 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.

Most mine subsidence policies specify which structures are covered. For example, mine subsidence coverage in Pennsylvania covers buildings, but not the land or your personal items. The Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance Underwriting Association offers coverage for one to four dwelling structures, which means your house but not separate structures on your property, like your garage or shed.

If you’re looking into subsidence coverage, you can start by reaching out to your home insurance company to see if coverage is offered as a coverage add-on. If your insurer doesn’t offer mine subsidence coverage, contact your state’s government agency or research mine subsidence coverage in your state.

How much mine subsidence coverage should I buy?

Your coverage limits will 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. It’s suggested that you select coverage limits equal to your home’s replacement cost plus 20% more for associated losses, according to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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