Florida has the dubious distinction of leading the nation when it comes to sinkholes, and South Florida has had some whoppers. However, it doesn’t take a massive sinkhole to do serious damage to your property and possibly make it uninhabitable.
Under Florida law, a sinkhole is “a land form created by subsidence of soil, sediment or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater…[that] may form by collapse into subterranean voids created by dissolution (the dissolving) of limestone or dolostone or by the subsidence as these strata are dissolved.”
What coverage do insurers need to provide in Florida?
Florida requires insurance companies to offer coverage specifically for sinkholes. However, ironically, if there’s been sinkhole activity on or near your property, you may not be able to get this coverage. Your property will be inspected before you’re allowed to purchase sinkhole coverage.
Insurance companies are required, however, to provide coverage of Florida properties for “catastrophic ground cover collapse.” That is defined as “geological activity” caused by a collapse or depression in the ground cover that results in structural damage to a property and its foundation and an order by the government to vacate the property and condemn it. That means if your home is still inhabitable, but you need to have significant repair work done, a homeowner’s policy without specific sinkhole coverage won’t cover it.
If you’ve had sinkhole damage and you believe your insurance company has wrongfully denied your claim, it may be wise to talk with an attorney. They can review your policy and help you determine what options you have. If your insurance company is denying benefits that should be getting based on the terms of your policy and the damage that your property suffered, they can review your options with you and help you take steps to get the compensation to which you’re entitled.