As victims of the catastrophic landslide in Oso start rebuilding their lives, many face the additional calamity of having no insurance for the loss of their homes [“Slide erased their homes, but maybe not their loans,” Local News, April 1].
Losses from landslides are not covered by typical homeowner’s insurance. But there may be hope: Homeowners who purchased flood insurance policies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program should seek compensation under the mudslide-insurance coverage provided by these policies.
If a mudslide claim is turned down, it might seem overwhelming to prove that the damage to a home was caused by a slide covered in the flood-insurance policy. However, a lawyer with a geologist or engineering geologist can demonstrate that the ground failure was, in fact, an insurance-covered mudslide.
The U.S. Congress added mudslide coverage to the National Flood Insurance Program to help victims of mudslides like the Oso event. Not many people are aware of this, but they should be. While statutorily mandated to map flood-related mudslides, FEMA has never done so.
Any person buying or building a home in an area with a mudslide or a flood risk should consider buying a flood-insurance policy.
Arthur Zeizel, retired from FEMA’s Policy and Research Directorate and the National Flood Insurance Program, Bethesda, Md.