FORT WASHINGTON, Md. (WUSA9) -- Homeowners policies are unlikely to cover the losses of the 28 families that have been evacuated due to a slow-moving landslide in Fort Washington, a public adjuster said Wednesday.
"There would have to be a separate earth movement endorsement," said Joel Appelbaum, a public adjuster for American Claims Management Services of Bethesda which represents homeowners in claims against their insurance. Such endorsements are rare in Maryland, Appelbaum said.
Homeowners on Piscataway Drive in Ft. Washington are already paying for relocation and the loss of food since a landslide forced evacuations Sunday. Utilities have been severed by the landslide, and 28 homes have been declared unlivable until power, water and access are restored. The restoration could take weeks, according to Prince George's County officials.
At least six homes are directly threatened with possible collapse due to moving ground, officials say.
If those homes are permanently condemned, the owners are facing an uninsured total loss, Appelbaum said.
At a community meeting Tuesday, some residents questioned whether poor county road maintenance or chronic leaks in Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission water supply lines may have caused or contributed to the landslide that accelerated Sunday. If so, agencies could be held liable for homeowner losses.
Prince George's County officials say the cause of the landslide has not been determined by independent engineers who have been hired by Prince George's County to investigate and recommend repairs.
Prince George's workers and the Red Cross may assist residents with the costs of temporary accommodations on a case-by-case basis, said Scott Peterson, a spokesman for County Executive Rushern Baker.
Appelbaum called on Marylanders to check their insurance policies for specific coverage if they live in areas that might be prone to hazards like floods or landslides.
"Most people just trust their agents and insurance companies to sell them the right coverage, but that doesn't always happen," Appelbaum said. "We can't recover claims for things people don't have insurance for."