As everyone watching the news knows, there were horrific mudslides in Santa Barbara County this week caused by flash flooding in the fire-scarred Santa Ynez Mountains. Due to the fires that have ravaged Southern California in the past month, the scorched earth—lacking shrubs that can absorb water—is especially susceptible to mudslide when there is a heavy rain.

Watching the rescue efforts in Montecito, California, one can only pray there are no more deceased or injured in the rescue efforts.

As clean up begins, many homeowners may be shocked to learn there is a difference in insurance between mudslides and mudflow, and that will determine whether they are covered under a homeowner policy of insurance or will have to make a claim under a flood policy—if they are lucky enough to have one.

A mudslide (as many news stations are using this term in relation to Montecito) occurs when earth or rock moves downhill, which is often caused by an accumulation of water that leads to destabilization. Mudslide is not covered by a flood insurance policy, but may be covered by a homeowner policy. Mudslide is often considered an “earth movement event” which is often excluded from a basic homeowner policy.

A mudflow is a river of mud and is covered under a national flood insurance policy rather than a homeowner policy.

As clean-up begins, remember to read your insurance policies to see what coverage you have on your home and report the loss to your insurance company immediately.

  • shirley heflin

    Dear Ms. Van Voorhis:

    It’s such a scary world we’re living in right now! We’re enduring hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides, mudflows, etc., and following each tragedy, loss of victims and property loss damages must be made. Meanwhile, victims are saddled with the trauma of ascertaining whether or not their insurance company “covers” their particular loss and, if they are covered, their insurance company may deny their claim.

    In short, one would think that enduring and surviving a horrific tragedy would be “ok” because they have insurance but, in many cases, this is not the case.

    Respectfully,
    SHIRLEY HEFLIN
    Tampa, FL