Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Question of the day: Will my homeowners insurance cover my home, which is sinking into a bog?

As we mentioned earlier today, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an interesting story today about the fact that much of Seattle is apparently built on bogs, and that drainage from development seems be drying out the bogs. Result: the land under some people's homes is dropping. The story highlights the case of a man whose land has sunk two feet, bending pipes and causing other problems.

And so, the obvious question for this blog: Would homeowner's insurance cover this type of damage?

Unfortunately, probably not. "Soil subsidence" and settling are typically excluded from homeowners policies. This is a significant problem, it turns out, in places with lots of old abandoned mines.

Insurance news: trade group balks at climate-change survey, American Trade Association fined, and story about bogs eating Seattle homes

Lots in the news today:

The New York Times reports that an insurance trade group is warning that it's "exceedingly risky" for companies to blindly accept scientific conclusions about climate change, given the "serious questions" around the extent to which humans cause atmospheric warming. A trade group official told the paper that "it's fairly obvious that certain regulators have made up their minds about what the answers to those questions are."

Pennsylvania insurance commissioner Joel Ario responded that climate change would have profound impacts on insurers: "If climate change does pose the risk that environmentalists say it does, then guess who's going to bear that risk on their business? It will be the insurers."

"The insurers are perhaps the one group that is more concerned about climate change than the environmentalists," Ario said. "If climate change does pose the risk that environmentalists say it does, then guess who's going to bear that risk on their business? It will be the insurers."

In Oklahoma, insurance commissioner Kim Holland announced this morning that she's fining American Trade Association and two affiliates $25,000 each for violating an order not to illegally sell insurance products in that state. (Washington state has issued a very similar order against the company and affiliates, as have other states.)
Also much news about health care reform. (All these links are from the New York Times):
Why does health care cost so much?
White House tense as clock ticks on health care bill
House GOP leader: We can beat this bill
Proposal to save patients billions by changing rules for generic drugs

And here's your reward for reading this far: A story with some insurance ramifications in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Will bogs keep eating Seattle homes?