Homeowners in PA could soon be eligible for insurance specifically for landslide coverage

25 June 2024- In a bipartisan effort, Reps. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) and Emily Kinkead (D-Allegheny) today announced the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee advanced their legislation that would create a new insurance program for homeowners living in landslide-prone areas. The measure also would provide assistance to local governments that wish to mitigate the risk of landslides within their communities.

“Landslides pose a significant threat to our communities, causing property damage and putting lives at risk,” said Gaydos. “This bill seeks to provide much-needed financial protection to homeowners and municipalities that face the expenses of these natural disasters.”

“I am over the moon to see our bill to help landslide victims finally advance out of committee,” said Kinkead. “I’ve been working to create a landslide insurance program for Pennsylvanians since my first day in office. I am confident that we will get this bill out of the House with broad bipartisan support and hope the Senate will do its part to establish an actual support system for folks who own property in areas where landslides can occur like southwestern Pennsylvania. Words truly cannot capture my excitement at seeing this bill finally gaining some momentum.”

Damage from landslides is not covered under normal homeowners insurance, so this is an area where homeowners are often “on their own.” The expense can be overwhelming.

House Bill 589 would add coverage of landslides and slope movement to an existing program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) that currently only covers mine subsidence assistance and insurance.

Previous versions of this legislation have been discussed for years; however, Gaydos and Kinkead have worked together to update and streamline the proposed program.

Last September, Gaydos and Kinkead held a series of town hall meetings and invited experts to testify about this issue. Each testifier stated this is an ongoing concern to homeowners in western Pennsylvania. Funding is a major problem. Counties cannot do it alone. It is imperative that local, county, state and federal officials work together.

In January, Gaydos and Kinkead visited residents who were affected by a landslide after heavy rainstorms. Some residents were asked to abandon their homes for safety precautions. Western Pennsylvania is susceptible to landslides because of two natural geological characteristics:

• The bedrock land composition, consisting mainly of incompetent mud rocks, such as silty shales and clay stones that weather easily.
• The regional topography consisting of steep slopes.

“Approval of House Bill 589 by the members of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is a big step toward getting this legislation to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk,” said Gaydos. “Helping citizens and communities mitigate or recover from major catastrophic events, such as those caused by landslides, is precisely where government assistance should be applied.”

The legislation now moves on to the full House of Representatives for consideration.