Last updated: February 16. 2013 3:45PM - 550 Views

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IF ONE OF your prized possessions – your house – suddenly dropped into a chasm, wrecking its walls and ruining the foundation, would you be able to recover emotionally and financially?

Or would you be, for all practical purposes, sunk?

In Luzerne County, more property owners would be wise to at least ponder those questions and ask themselves whether they should be protected by Mine Subsidence Insurance – especially now that the state has reduced the yearly cost for residences by about 15 percent. Coverage of $150,000 can be obtained for $82.50 per year, or less than $7 per month. Rates are even lower for senior citizens.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection, which started its Mine Subsidence Insurance program in 1961, maintains a website with a premium rate chart and a ZIP code database to assess risk in particular areas. Visit www.paMSI.org.

Due to this region's history of anthracite mining, much of the Wyoming Valley and Greater Hazleton fall into zones deemed at risk for subsidence-type troubles, according to a news report in Thursday's edition of The Times Leader.

Based on DEP's figures, 14 claims in Luzerne County received payouts between July 2010 and June 30, 2011. Yet the department tallies fewer than 5,000 mine subsidence insurance polices issued throughout the county, suggesting plenty of people are rolling the dice.

A standard homeowner policy typically doesn't cover damage caused by abandoned coal or clay mines, or sudden discharges of water from mine voids. The bill for repairing a property impacted by subsidence averages about $50,000, say the promoters of DEP's nonprofit insurance program. On weekdays, callers to its toll-free number (1-800-922-1678) can learn more about historical mining activity on their streets and in their neighborhoods, helping to assess the need for this specialized insurance.

Why not make the call? Talk with your own insurance agent, too, ensuring that you have adequate, but not excess, coverage.

Then if something should go wrong at your property, at least you can be confident of receiving an eventual lift.

Risky business

Get details about the state Department of Environmental Protection's Mine Subsidence Insurance program.

• Call 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays: 1-800-922-1 678.

• Visit www.paMSI.org.

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