Florida has the highest rate of sinkholes in the country, and insurance to cover any damage that might be caused by this kind of phenomenon is guaranteed for residents of the Sunshine State. Fortunately, sinkholes are not an everyday occurrence, and we usually only hear of those that swallow sections of highway or gobble up cars. However, some of these depressions develop gradually, causing damage to part of your home or property. If this happens, your next step is to file a claim with your insurance company, but this is not necessarily a simple matter with satisfactory results.
The sinkhole defined
A sinkhole is a depression or hole that forms in the crust of the earth. It can result from either natural or manmade causes. Many are by-products of earthquakes. Excess groundwater from heavy rains and flooding may cause erosion, which can lead to the formation of a sinkhole. A ground shift of only an inch or two can bring about severe damage to your home; to such an extent, in fact, that it might not be safe for you and your family to continue living there.
Spotting a possible disaster
A potential sinkhole shows itself in various ways, and it is wise to be alert to any noticeable changes on your property. Be aware of cracks that develop around your doors or windows; you might also find them harder to open. Look for any depressions that develop in your yard or deep cracks in your driveway or in the street beyond. Another warning of potential trouble is the appearance of sediment in your drinking water.
What insurance covers
If your home sustains damage from a sinkhole, you can file a claim with your insurance company. They will send someone out to investigate. If a sinkhole is confirmed, you will have the option of having it repaired or accepting a negotiated settlement.
Running into problems
The process of filing a sinkhole insurance claim can be complicated, and you may wish to have expert advice and assistance. There is also a possibility the report prepared by the insurance company investigator states the damage to your home was not caused because of a sinkhole. In this case, your insurance claim would be denied. If you disagree with the finding, it might be wise to have a geologist or geotechnical engineer review the report. In any case, you can reach out to an attorney experienced in handling insurance issues of this type who can defend your rights and act on your behalf in dealing with the insurance company.