Move over Lewinski. America has a new threat.
Let's talk about drought. It causes home damage that isn't covered by insurance.
The signs that you may have damage brought on by drought:
1. Doors, windows or deadbolts are difficult to open.
2. A homeowner with a good eye can spot their foundation pulling away from the walls.
3. On occasion, you can even HEAR it when it happens, a loud boom like a firecracker.
4. Your well runs dry.
Those are your clues that somethin' ain't right. Many people NEVER consider that drought can cause BILLIONS of dollars in damage. We know that tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and fire wreak havoc, but typically people only associate drought damage with agricultural losses. By far, that's a legitimate first thought. We have to water our food! And lots of it comes from California, so, California REALLY needs to water its food!
But, to the common, non-farming homeowner, drought is a silent, slow-slithering homewrecker. Finally, when you hear that BOOM you know to start looking for a creeper.
Drought damage can run you anwhere from $100 to 10,000 or even to $100,000 if you dont catch it quickly. Noticing it quickly can save you THOUSANDS.
Why doesnt insurance cover it? Because its a slow creeper. Insurance is designed to be for "sudden and accidental" urgencies. Drought damage happens over the years as soil dries out and shrinks. A homeowner can do bits of maintenance here and there to prevent the process from totally wrecking the place. You might think, "Well, homes settle over time anyway". But, the the drought turns soil into powdery crumbles, that's out of the scope of your normal settling process.
What about Earthquake Insurance? Nope. Earthquake policies in California state that the ground movement experienced MUST be caused BY an earthquake.
All other causes of loss are excluded. You can't buy insurance to protect you from drought wreckage (well, I shouldn't say *can't*, for enough money you could probably buy anything). To the left is a screenshot from the California Earthquake Authority policy specimen, which shows what many homeowners & agents alike are surprised to find.
Here are some simple things you can do to try to minimize and discourage your soil from just rolling over and giving up its fight to stay strong:
- Keep your gutters clean and directed AWAY from the home so rain doesnt wash away even more soil. You need to hang on tight to ALL the dirt under your home.
- Install a "soaker hose" around the home but a few feet away from the foundation to keep surrounding soil moist and intact.
- Check for new gaps between adjoining parts of the home's exterior and new cracks in walls or garage floors.
We aren't coming out of our Exceptional Drought status anytime soon, so let's all do what we can to avoid being wrecked. Let's even keep doing our rain dances, every little bit helps.
Home damage is one thing, but the ripple effects of epic droughts like this one are painful in many ways: The water we have will be dirtier. Fires will be blazing. We are at higher risk for floods when we DO get water, and landslides are more likely to occur.
Let's all do the best we can to conserve water where we can, and be aware of what we can do to catch damage before it starts.