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Paul Zimmerman

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California Grapples with Landslide Coverage Issues

In California, after a period filled with a major drought, fires, and now predicted heavy rains, we anticipate that this season could bring significant landslide/earth movement losses. Potential insurance coverage to homeowners for such losses under the standard homeowner insurance policy can be quite limited, due to earth movement exclusions. Coverage may be available if there are multiple causes of a particular loss, and one cause is covered. If any cause involves an efficient proximate cause, then coverage may be available. Garvey v. State Farm Cas. Co. 48 Cal. 3d 395 (1989). However, a review of the policy is necessary due to exclusionary endorsements which may affect coverage under a multiple causation scenario.

Coverage in the future may eventually become available through legislative work. Approximately 30 years ago, offering earthquake insurance to homeowners became mandatory in California. Recently, talks have begun with respect to landslide losses. Discussions on this issue are likely to become more intense as uninsured landslide losses mount during the upcoming winter storm season.

This article is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.