Burning Down the House

It was only a few days ago that we first learned about the house just outside of Fort Worth, Texas that was on the edge of collapsing into Lake Whitney. The $700,000+ home, situated right along the edge of a cliff, began to crumble into the Lake along with the ground underneath it.

So the most obvious remedy was to burn down the house, right? Exactly.

The home’s owners and local officials engaged in a controlled burn in order to prevent further damage to the surrounding area and eliminate the potential of the entire house collapsing into the lake. Clearly, this is something that could only happen in Texas.

The house on a cliff over Lake Whitney was intentionally set on fire Friday.

Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Two important concepts arise out of this horrific incident. First, building permits and inspections make a lot of sense. According to numerous sources, this area of Texas is unincorporated land and does not require building permits. If you’re a homeowner in a similar situation, we encourage you to take the time to hire professionals to inspect your property anyway. Ultimately, it is the homeowners responsibility to maintain their own property and make sure that it is, in this case, literally on stable ground.

Second, the majority of homeowners insurance policies do not include coverage for Earth Movement/Earthquake/Mudslide. Each of those three exposures are defined a bit differently.  One example of an Insurance Services Office (ISO) earth movement exclusion:

Earth movement, meaning the sinking, rising, shifting, expanding or contracting of earth, all whether combined with water or not. Earth movement includes but is not limited to earthquake, landslide, erosion, and subsidence but does not include sinkhole collapse. 

Take the time to speak to your agent about the definition of each. Find out whether any of these coverage options are right for you, especially if building or buying a home on the side of a cliff. It is important to make an informed decision – find out if your policy includes coverage along these lines and get educated about what it truly covers. The deductible (the dollar amount that the homeowner will be responsible for) for this type of coverage is typically handled differently than the property deductible on your policy.

Our team can walk you through the process. Enders Insurance Associates has been educating our clients on all types of homeowners coverage for over 60 years.