Florida law defines a sinkhole as “a land form created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater. A sinkhole may form by collapsing into subterranean voids created by dissolution (the dissolving) of limestone or dolostone or by the subsidence as these strata are dissolved.”
WHAT IS CATASTROPHIC GROUND COVER COLLAPSE?
Catastrophic ground cover collapse is defined as geological activity that results in all of 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 building including the foundation •Insured structures being condemned and ordered to be vacated by a government agency
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW…
Florida is well known for having a large amount of sinkholes every year. In fact, Florida has more sinkholes on average than any other state in America. Unfortunately, not all homeowners’ policies provide coverage for damage caused to your home due to a sinkhole. Florida law only requires that insurance companies cover catastrophic ground cover collapse. Insurance companies in Florida are required to offer sinkhole coverage, but it is generally in addition to your existing homeowner’s policy and could cost an additional premium. Insurance companies may request to do an inspection of the property to ensure that there is no sinkhole activity before you add the coverage. If sinkhole activity is present on the property, the insurance company could decline to provide the sinkhole coverage.
BUYING A HOME?
Before buying a house, you’ll want to take some of these things into consideration: • Check with your insurance company that the home is insurable. • Check with city officials about any recent sinkhole activity near the property. • If you want to purchase sinkhole coverage, make it clear to your insurance company. • Get a home inspection to help identify signs of potential sinkhole activity.
FILING A SINKHOLE CLAIM?
Here are some of the immediate steps you should take if a sinkhole has opened up on your property or if your home has shifted/sunk due to a ground cover collapse: • Evacuate if necessary. Always take care of yourself and your family’s safety first. • If you can, safely secure or remove your most valuable possessions. • Notify your insurance company immediately after the incident has occurred. • Notify your city building inspection department. • Mark around the sinkhole to warn others. You could be liable if someone is injured on your property.
If your insurance company denies your sinkhole claim, you are entitled by Florida law to participate in the Florida Department Of Financial Services’ Neutral Evaluation Program. This program provides a professional geologist to serve as a third party in order to determine the existence of the sinkhole activity and methods of repair.