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Coverage for Mine Subsidence in Pennsylvania

Well, this is a fairly esoteric topic unless you live in Pennsylvania, but it does go to show that there are never too many questions you can ask to make sure you have an adequate amount of homeowners insurance. There are 1 million homes in Pennsylvania that sit on top of abandoned coal mines that can be subjected to mine subsidence, but only 58,000 homeowners have signed up for state-subsidized insurance policies to cover the issue.

This is actually an instance where the extra coverage is a good deal. It costs about $97 a year for $150,000 of residential coverage. There is one caveat. You have to have coverage for each building on the property. So, if you have a detached garage, you need a separate policy for that structure. The state is concerned enough about potential property losses that the premiums have been reduced 20 percent since the January 2009 levels.

Now, if you live above an active mine, don’t bother. Under state law, mine operators are responsible for any damage to homes caused by subsidence. This normally takes the form of cracked walls, sidewalks, and foundations, but let’s face it . . . the bottom can literally fall out. It doesn’t happen often, but it can.

In 2009 there were 175 claims for mine subsidence in the state. Only ten were paid, but those ten paid out $472,599. In 2008, 27 claims were paid that amounted to just north of $1 million. Considering that there are abandoned mines in 43 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania and normal homeowners policies don’t cover subsidence, the state program is a good deal.

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