Understanding Sink Hole Damage
Some insurance policies contain coverages for sink hole damage as long as this damage is caused by sinkhole activity only. This coverage usually costs extra and must be picked by the policy holder however. Our sinkhole adjusters will tell you that sinkhole claims are one of the most difficult claims for policyholders to handle due to the technical nature of the sinkhole investigation, the number of insurance company experts involved, the length of the investigative process and the complexity of the property insurance coverage issues involved. It is very important for a policy holder to understand their options for sinkhole repair under their policy and the various players in the sinkhole repair process in order to obtain a fair settlement and permanent fix. If this is not handled properly, it will affect the value of and further imperil both you and your property. For this reason we recommend that most policy holders consult with an expert that works for you and not the insurance company.
In the US, most of the damage caused by sinkholes occurs in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Most of Florida is prone to sinkhole development because it is underlain by limestone or dolomite, which is susceptible to dissolutions by naturally flowing ground water. This forms underground channels, voids and cavities in the limestone or dolomite.
Sinkholes form with the eventual collapse of the overlying soils down into the channels, voids and cavities below.
Sometimes sinkholes are revealed suddenly as they swallow sections of some major roadways or when buildings disappear.
The more common sinkhole damages are much more subtle. Sinkholes may appear as a slight depression in a lawn, a leaning tree or fence post. When they occur underneath or around a house or building they can cause cracking of the interior walls, ceilings, floor slabs and tiles. Sinkholes will cause damage to building foundations, exterior walls, driveways and even pools and some pool decks.
In Florida, they are an ever present, naturally occurring geologic feature and one of the predominant landforms. While sinkholes are usually little more than a nuisance, they can cause substantial property damage and typically create significant insurance claim disputes.
If you are concerned you have a sinkhole problem, we would welcome the opportunity to review your options!
Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse
All authorized carriers must provide this coverage defined as follows:
“Catastrophic ground cover collapse” means geological activity that result in all the following:
The abrupt collapse of the ground cover.
A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye;
Structural damage to the covered building, including the foundation; and
The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the governmental agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure.