If you’ve ever wondered, ‘Do I need sinkhole coverage in Florida?’ then this post is for you. In the sunshine state, insurance companies are required by law to include catastrophic ground collapse coverage in the homeowner’s insurance coverage.
Do I Need Sinkhole Coverage in Florida?
While it may come as a surprise to many, sinkhole damage coverage is not the same as catastrophic ground collapse coverage. It also is only offered as optional coverage, typically as an endorsement that comes at an additional cost to the homeowner.
In 2010, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported a significant increase in reported sinkhole losses from 2006 to 2009. With nearly 24,671 claims reported by insurers in the state of Florida between 2006 and 2010, these losses rose from approximately $209 million in 2006 to $406 million in 2009.
Again, if you’re thinking, “Do I need sinkhole coverage in Florida?” The answer is that it depends on your unique circumstances and location. If you live in an area prone to sinkholes or that has existing sinkhole activity, then your insurance company may decline coverage entirely.
Sinkhole vs. Catastrophic Ground Collapse Coverage
Sinkholes can be characterized and divided into three types:
- Subsidence sinkholes form slowly and gradually develop.
- Collapse sinkholes are caused by fluctuations in underground water.
- Clay shrinkage sinkholes vary seasonally and with annual rainfall.
In Florida, the majority of sinkholes are caused by the collapse of surface sediments because of the cavities in the limestone. The depth of the hole determines the severity of the sinkhole. Even though sinkholes can suddenly open up and swallow everything above it, sinkholes don’t always cause this type of damage.
Sometimes, shallow sinkholes leave less substantial damage, like cracks, sinking and sagging in the foundation of the home. Though, as a homeowner, this is definitely not a minor expense. As a precaution, if you see signs of sinkhole activity, it’s best to leave the dwelling and not return until a thorough inspection has been conducted.
Four distinctive points define catastrophic ground cover collapse:
- The abrupt collapse of ground cover
- A depression in the ground cover, clearly visible to the naked eye
- Structural damage to the building, including the foundation
- The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the government agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure
If the sinkhole damage does not meet the above conditions, then it will not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, if the structure of your home experiences cracking, it would not qualify as per the criteria listed. You would need to purchase sinkhole coverage separately in order for the damage to be covered.
Play it Safe
If you observe any signs of a sinkhole, it’s essential to cut off access to the hole, notify the authorities, and leave immediately. Don’t attempt to fill the sinkhole or go down into it. It may seem safe but it’s best to leave it to the professionals to determine that. For information on additional sinkhole coverage, call your favorite insurance experts at E&L Insurance by dialing (888) 700-4049.