Do You Need Mine Subsidence Insurance?

by Joyce Novotny-Prettiman, Esq.

Your homeowner's insurance does not cover damage from mine subsidence. Given the history of coal mining in southwestern Pennsylvania, this may be of interest to you. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), mines have been active in coalfields since the late 1700s in 43 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

What damage can be caused by mine subsidence? Problems such as buckling and collapsed foundations, cracked mortar and brick work, and cracked plaster and drywall may be signs of mine subsidence.

To see if your home is at risk for mine subsidence, you can consult DEP maps available by county and township, or you can contact the DEP. They will attempt to locate the site in question and determine if mining has been done in your area.

If your home is in an area that has been mined, you may want to obtain insurance through the Commonwealth's Mine Subsidence Insurance (MSI) Fund or your insurance agent. Your home should be insured for its replacement value.

Coverage for a home valued at $150,000 would cost approximately $128.50 per year. If you are 65 or older, you will get a 10 percent discount on the premium for your primary residence. Policies are issued with a $250 deductible and minor damage may be excluded from coverage.

Claims are filed with the local DEP office and investigated by the MSI Fund, which has been in operation since 1961 and has paid over $20 million dollars in claims. Claims are paid based upon actual repair costs or replacement of the structure, whichever is less.

This is one of those things where action is required before you have a problem. The DEP has made a wealth of information available to homeowners:

• On the internet at

• Through a toll-free number 1-800-922-1678

If you need to speak to an experienced Pennsylvania attorney contact Quatrini Rafferty via email or phone us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016.

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