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Danger Down Below

sinkhole largeIt is just like a bad sci-fi thriller movie, but it is not.  This is real life.  There is no warning.  From out of nowhere…  He strikes like a bolt of lightning. No one can predict when or where they might occur next.  It is almost as if there is a monster living and roaming underneath Florida.  …And everywhere he travels, he eats all the ground under your house or condo complex leaving giant sinkholes in his wake.

Cover-collapse sinkholes are the type often reported on by the news media and what most people envision when they hear the word sinkhole.  According to the Florida Geological Survey, catastrophic ground cover collapse involves the formation of a cover-collapse sinkhole which has formed under a building causing severe structural damage. Sinkhole activity involves the degradation of the underlying sediments which may be the result of or lead to the formation of either a cover-subsidence sinkhole or a cover-collapse sinkhole.

It is critically important to make sure that you are adequately covered with the proper insurance.  Sinkhole activity is only covered only by an optional sinkhole insurance rider which covers a sinkhole loss.

Chapter 627, Section 7062 of the Florida Statutes defines sinkhole loss as:

(j) “Sinkhole loss” means structural damage to the covered building, including the foundation, caused by sinkhole activity. Contents coverage and additional living expenses apply only if there is structural damage to the covered building caused by sinkhole activity.

What this means is that a catastrophic collapse is now the only sinkhole damage fully covered in Florida since the legislature approved sweeping insurance changes to the preexisting laws in 2012. For an incident to qualify for this condition there must be an abrupt land collapse, structural damage and a condemned property.

It should be noted that the law was changed because the state found contractors and adjustors abused coverage for minor repairs.  It does cause one to think how this legislation actually benefits the homeowner when they are not at fault for over pricing job estimates.

Bad movies in real life aside, many sinkhole claims are now nightmares. The real unfortunate aspect of this alteration is the new law gives insurance companies an easy way to deny, delay and limit claims.  Florida does have a mediation program to review sinkhole claim denials.  Obtaining top notch legal council is your best course of action when it comes to dealing with stingy insurance adjusters.   While the memories will never be replaced, your home can be with a brand new one if the sinkhole monster ever comes to your town.