Earthquake and mine subsidence: Are you at risk?

When natural events damage your home, they aren’t always covered by insurance. In fact, three potentially destructive perils – flood (read more about flood in another blog post), earthquake, and mine subsidence – generally are not included on a standard homeowners insurance policy, leaving you at risk for exposure. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about earthquake and mine subsidence, which may help you decide if you should obtain special insurance for each.

What is mine subsidence?
Underground mining in the Midwest began hundreds of years ago, when mining was not well regulated. Throughout time, cities and towns began to expand over or near the old, abandoned mines. Problems occur when the ground moves because of a failure – like collapse – at the mine level. That movement is mine subsidence, and it can directly damage buildings.

What is the difference between mine subsidence and earthquake damage?
Both are geological events, but the damage looks a little different.

Damage results from shaking caused by surface waves and differs depending on severity. Light damage usually is first visible in the structure above the basement, like cracks in plaster. Moderate damage will be in non-reinforced components, like chimneys, parapets, cornices, and ornamentation. In fact, it’s possible for an earthquake to cause this type of damage while leaving the foundation intact. But earthquake damage can be severe enough to cause whole structures to collapse.

Mine subsidence:
Damage from mine subsidence begins in the foundation, working its way up through a structure. It can include:
• Cracked, broken, or damaged foundation.
• Cracks in the basement walls, driveway, or garage floor.
• Popping and snapping sounds as if the house is shifting.
• Walls or floors appear unleveled or tilted.
• Doors swing open or closed.
• In extreme cases, water or gas lines may rupture.

If there is no evidence of foundation damage, it probably wasn’t caused by mine subsidence.

What’s my risk for earthquake and mine subsidence?

This map shows the general risk for earthquakes in the United States.

Mine subsidence risk varies greatly – even by county – depending on past mining activity. A good place to look is the Abandoned Mine Lands (AMLs) Portal, which provides information from U.S. Federal environmental and land management agencies about the different types of AML sites and their associated environmental, health, and safety issues.

Who can help me find earthquake or mine subsidence insurance?
The best person to contact is your independent agent. He or she will help you find resources to assess your risk, and link you to the appropriate insurance for your home or business.

Information source: Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund

Boss’s orders: Get healthy

Companies today recognize the link between workplace wellness and productivity. Healthier employees are more focused, have fewer accidents, and are less likely to miss work. Research shows that workplace wellness programs provide corporate cost savings by reducing absenteeism and medical costs. Here are some areas of focus:


Repetitive motion injuries can make your job a real pain — literally! According to the National Institutes of Health, the lifetime cost of carpal tunnel is approximately $30,000 per person. And employees with back problems rack up significantly more health care costs than their pain-free coworkers.

Orthopedic specialists can provide ergonomic recommendations for work stations and common workplace tasks. Or, host training sessions and teach employees to be smarter about how they work, with frequent stretches and proper posture.

Smoking cessation
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. In fact, life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than nonsmokers.

According to the American Cancer Society, for every employee who smokes, your business incurs nearly $3,800 in excess health care costs and lost productivity annually. Studies show that more than 70 percent of smokers want to quit. Give your employees some extra help and increase their chances of quitting for good.

Stress reduction
People who experience chronic stress have an elevated risk of heart disease. Stress damages your immune response, your memory, your brain function, and even your motor skills — all of which is bad news for employers.

Talk to your local health care provider about stress reduction classes and information sessions. Or consider a total wellness program that includes flexible work and other work-life benefits to help employees cope.

Diet and exercise
According to the CDC, just a 1 percent reduction in the following risk factors excess weight, elevated blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol has been shown to save $83-103 annually in medical costs per person. And that doesn’t even include productivity savings!

Encourage employees to stay active. Regular exercise can help people prevent a wide range of health problems, including stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Exercise also increases energy levels and helps ward off depression.

Consider your options for boosting employee fitness. Can you arrange for a corporate discount at the local Y? What about a weekly yoga class in a conference room? Or shower facilities so employees can bike to work or run during a lunch break? 

Next, help employees make better choices about what to eat. Some organizations are banning donuts in meetings or revamping the contents of company vending machines. Others are subsidizing healthy food in the cafeteria or putting out bowls of fresh fruit in the break room.

The CDC developed the National Healthy Worksite Program and the Work@Health programs to help employers boost their workplace wellness efforts.    

Why service organizations need the right insurance policy

Service and social clubs — they’re part of the fabric of America. Our service organizations, youth sports boosters, and even bridge clubs play an essential role in supporting our community and creating valuable social connections.

But as varied as the needs these groups serve are, so too are the risks they face. Without insurance, even one small accident could wipe out your club’s financial reserves and create long-term debt. Even worse, your club members could be personally sued.

“Laws are different state by state, but as a board member, you could be volunteering your liability,” said Jeff Bykowski, Specialty Business Development Manager at SECURA Insurance. “That is a reality check for a lot of people.”

When bad things happen to good people

If an accident happens, you can’t count only on your good works or good reputation to protect you. Since you worked so hard to build your club’s public image, you need to partner with the best insurance agent and carrier. Your independent agent can help make sure you have the coverage you need in case accidents or damage occur.

Insurance coverage as unique as your club

“From parade floats to spaghetti dinners to classic car shows, service clubs engage in a wide variety of activities,” said Bykowski. “Providing the right protection requires a lot of conversation. People don’t realize everything their club does until they really stop to think about it. It’s like peeling an onion.”

For instance, if your group:

  • • Works with youth, you might need abuse insurance.
  • • Provides social services, you might need professional liability insurance.
  • • Sells beer or wine at an event, you might need liquor insurance.
  • • Hosts a bounce house, runs a parade float, or has a cookout, you might need special event insurance.
Work with an insurance agent who has experience with clubs and social groups. They can help your members understand the importance of liability insurance and design the appropriate policy.

Next, help your agent by making a thorough list of all the activities your club participates in.

Above all, don’t assume you have coverage. If you’re planning something new, tell your agent what you’re doing so they can make sure your organization and your members are protected.

Driver fitness regulations lower your costs

An organization’s single largest threat to profits, reputation, and safety can be found behind the wheel of its fleet vehicle. Managing driver safety and “fitness to drive” goes a long way toward preventing crashes.

1.  Follow DOT regulations
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations were developed after studying scores of accidents and finding repeated administrative failures to address key issues. They’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Adherence to DOT rules is the basis for an effective (and cost-saving) safety program.

The DOT is releasing detailed records of your company’s accident and inspection activity on its SAFER website. Banks, insurance companies, and even prospective customers can access this site to review your safety performance.

2.  Pre-qualify your drivers
According to section 391 of the DOT regulations, drivers must meet several specific criteria to be eligible to operate commercial vehicles. Here’s just a partial list. Drivers must:
• Be in good health.
 Be at least 21 years old.
• Know how to safely load, block, brace, and secure cargo.
• Have no clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure*, diabetes requiring insulin for control, disqualifying heart disease, or epilepsy.
Have 20/40 vision or better with corrective lenses.
• Have no history of drug abuse and no clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.

*Provisions allow limited recertification for drivers above certain blood pressure thresholds, allowing time for treatment and wellness improvements.

3.  Review driver qualifications

DOT regulations are very specific about what is expected in the Driver Qualification file. This includes an annual inquiry to your state agency maintaining driver records, other annual reviews of driver records, and current medical exam documentation.

4.  Make driver fitness an organizational priority
Create a culture in which your company commits to using only fit and qualified drivers. Begin with careful hiring practices and follow through with ongoing monitoring and safety education.

Establish procedures for monitoring driver qualifications and providing refresher training. Train dispatchers and drivers to understand that drivers cannot take a run if an illness impairs their ability or alertness. And, establish both disciplinary and incentive tools to improve driver fitness and safety habits.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month a source of inspiration and hope

Help us fill in our mosaic. Visit, share your
photo, and we’ll donate to breast cancer research in your name.
Messages of encouragement are widespread in October as the nation recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

For example, here are a few of the inspirational words shared on our Facebook page by women and men whose lives have been touched by breast cancer.

“I'm slogging through treatment for myself and my beautiful daughter. And I'm telling everyone so they go get checked!! Early detection, ladies; don't be afraid. Be in charge.”

“This past spring, I had a MRI to screen for breast cancer because my mammogram and subsequent ultrasounds showed an area of suspicion. Luckily I was blessed to be given the all clear and am thankful for my life and everyone in my grandson in this photo!”

“My mother-in-law has been a cancer survivor for 11 years!! She is an amazing woman.”

These words accompany pictures celebrating the strength and courage it takes to battle the disease. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re compiling these photos into a mosaic, bringing together people with a common goal: standing up to breast cancer.

Whether you have a grandmother who passed away from the disease, a test showing you’re cancer free, or you’d simply like to recognize all the women in your life — we want to honor you and your loved ones by spreading awareness and raising funds for breast cancer research.

Share a photo
on our Facebook page to help us fill in the rest of our mosaic. When you do, we’ll donate $1 to the BCRF.

Like our Facebook page
. We’ll donate another $1 for every new like we get in October.

Spread the word, and let’s fight breast cancer together. Visit to see other photos already posted.