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Landslide Insurance Costly -- And Few Have It

Army Staff Sgt. Rory Featherston WA ANG
Washington National Guard
Washington Air National Guard members from the 141 Civil Engineer Squadron look out at the hill that was the origin of the mudslide while searching the debris field.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Monday filed a formal request for a federal disaster declaration.

If this is granted, it means the survivors of the massive landslide near Oso, Wash., would be eligible for federal assistance. Many of them will be counting on that since they don’t have landslide insurance.

Governor Inslee says the search teams are continuing their efforts. But at the same time, the state is looking to the future.

"We are now in the beginning phases of what you might think of our mid-term or long-term planning process, particularly for housing for these families," says the governor.

Displaced families may get help in the form of short-term housing vouchers but many in the landslide zone won't see insurance payouts for their lost property.

A Seattle-based industry group estimates that fewer than one percent of all home and business owners in Washington have it. It’s expensive and can cost an additional $1,000 per year or more for single-family home. It’s suspected that most homeowners in the path of the slide did not have this type of coverage.

A spokeswoman for the Washington state Insurance Commissioner says this means few people if any will be getting payouts.