Sinkholes in Florida are a fact of life. Due to the unique combination of bedrock, limestone, and sandstone ground structure, it is a recipe for disaster. As water erodes against the ground, the acid dissolves the limestone. Since the limestone is the middle layer, the dissolution occurs where it cannot be seen at first.. A sink holes typically comes quickly, without warning. These massive craters can be small, but are typically large, reaching diameters over 100 feet.
Title 37, Chapter 627, Section 706 of Florida law requires all property insurance policies to include, “Catastrophic ground cover collapse.” This law is very tricky when it comes to sinkholes. Technically, this coverage is not going to be helpful unless you meet very specific guidelines. Though you may have suffered catastrophic life altering damage, it is very likely that you are not covered under this policy.
In order to qualify for “Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse”, your property damage must meet all four qualifications:
- The ground abruptly collapses
- A depression in the ground is visible to the naked eye
- There is structural damage to the building, including the foundation
- The building is condemned by the government and ordered evacuation
If your domicile were to unfortunately meet all of the qualifications, your home and all personal possessions would be covered under the policy. However, sinkholes are typically not that cut and dry. Your residence can suffer catastrophic damage, including flooding, cracked foundation and all your personal items could be destroyed and you still may not qualify, simply because the house is not condemned. Just because your house does not fall in the middle of the sink hole does not mean you are not gravely effected by a sinkhole that occurs in your neighbor’s front yard. Unfortunately, the average person mistakenly confuses “Catastrophic ground cover collapse” with full sink hole insurance. They are unpleasantly surprised after already experiencing such a traumatic event to find out they are financial responsible for their loss.
The proper insurance that you need if living in a sinkhole danger spot, like Florida, is “Sinkhole loss” insurance. However, Florida law suggests that insurance companies offer the policy, but insurance companies can choose not to include it in the policy. Some insurance companies may want to evaluate the property in order to assess their risks, prior to keeping it in the policy. Regardless, if the company decides to omit sinkhole loss insurance from the policy, they must indicate so in the policy at 14 point bold or higher. It is also important to note that insurance policies can cancel the sinkhole insurance at any time—so always read those renewal forms!
How can a Sinkhole claims attorney help?
Be a step ahead of the game. Consulting a sinkhole claims attorney prior to purchasing a policy can be very advantageous. They can ensure that the policy you are considering has the proper coverage or lead you towards insurance companies that they have successfully worked with in the past that they believe are “sinkhole friendly.”
If you have experienced damage from a sinkhole, immediately contact a John Bales Attorneys. Insurance companies can be ruthless to deal with. Lawyers that specialize in working with sinkhole victims, know their way around the system. Regardless of the type of policy you have or the extend of your damage, skip the insurance companies and “experts” and go straight to the lawyer. A sinkhole claims attorney know exactly how to protect you from the insurance sharks.