Kinkead, Gaydos introduce legislation to assist owners of landslide-prone properties
Bipartisan bill to create insurance program for homeowners afflicted by landslides
HARRISBURG, Oct. 27 – During a news conference today held in Pittsburgh, state Reps. Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny, and Valerie Gaydos, R-Allegheny, introduced legislation to create a new insurance program for homeowners living in landslide-prone areas, as well as assistance to local governments that wish to mitigate the risk of landslides within their communities.
The bill would add coverage of landslides, slope movement and sinkholes to an existing program in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that currently covers only mine subsidence assistance and insurance.
“Landslides represent a significant financial burden to our Commonwealth residents, costing them millions in damages every year,” said Gaydos. “Unfortunately, this type of disaster typically is not covered by most insurance policies.”
Kinkead represents a high concentration of landslide victims in the North Hills and on the North Side of Pittsburgh.
“Previous versions of this legislation, including a bill I introduced last year, have been discussed but have languished in committee,” said Kinkead. “Representative Gaydos and I have worked together to update and streamline the proposed program and are introducing a new, bipartisan bill. Too many Pennsylvanians face financial ruin through no fault of their own because of landslides, and this legislation provides a way out.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a member of the Coal and Clay Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund board of directors, supports the legislation.
“I applaud the efforts of Representatives Gaydos and Kinkead to help protect Pennsylvania homeowners from the damages caused by naturally occurring landslides and look forward to continuing to have active discussions with the representatives on the development of this legislation.”
The lack of protections leaves many Pennsylvanians exposed to the financial fallout from the devastation and creates a large burden to communities in a multitude of ways. Western Pennsylvania is susceptible to landslides because of two natural geologic characteristics:
- The bedrock land composition, consisting mainly of incompetent mud rocks, such as silty shales and clay stones that weather easily.
- The regional topography consisting of steep slopes.
In addition, changing weather patterns like widening heavy rainfall and increasing flooding has caused significant geologic hazards across the state and is a risk to nearly all Pennsylvanians who may not have the ability to financially prepare.
Landslides encouraged by human factors such as construction, grading, cutting, drilling, etc. would not be covered under the legislation.
The lawmakers added that the measure would have far-reaching impacts in safeguarding residents against nature’s often unpredictable forces.
Photos from today’s press conference are available here. Video is available here.