Sinkhole Claims

Sink Hole Claims

Tampa First Party Insurance Dispute Attorney

Sinkholes are holes in the land's surface that occur throughout certain counties in Florida. They can be small or large, shallow or deep; however, they are all caused by the dissolving of limestone beneath the ground's surface. Sink holes are directly correlated with hydrologic conditions such as excessive rainfall in a short period of time, or in contrast, lack of rainfall, or even lowered water levels; all of these can play a role in the development of a sinkhole. It is believed that a number of Florida's ponds and lakes are the product of sinkhole formation that occurred in the past.

Since Florida is home to more than 19,000,000 people, sinkholes are classified as geologic hazards that have the propensity to cause extensive structural and road damage, resulting in costly repairs. Sinkholes can also threaten some of Florida's water supplies by draining unfiltered water from wetlands, lakes and streams into the underground water supply.

Although sinkholes can be massive, gaping holes greater than 50 feet in width, it's a common misconception that the only sinkholes that cause damage are large holes that open up and swallow a home. There are many cases where a small sinkhole below the home can destabilize the home's foundation, thus resulting in structural damage.

Florida's Sinkhole Laws

Sinkholes can be a major problem for Florida's residential and commercial property owners. They can cause cracks in the foundation, sloping floors, cracks around doors and all throughout different parts of your home or business, all of which are indicators that your property may be affected by a sinkhole below the surface. Even smaller, less visible sink holes can lead to extensive and costly repairs for the property owner.

Sinkholes are a particular cause for concern in west-central Florida, so much that the state of Florida enacted 2011 Florida Statute 627.706 where it addresses sinkhole insurance. Under §627.706, every insurer authorized to sell property insurance in the state of Florida is required to provide coverage for a catastrophic ground collapse. The insurer must also make available, for an additional premium, coverage for sinkhole losses on any structure, including the contents of personal property.

The insurer may require that they inspect the property before they provide coverage for sinkhole loss coverage and a residential policy may require a deductible for a sinkhole loss equal to 1%, 2%, 5% or 10% of the policy's dwelling limits. The insurer may also restrict catastrophic ground cover collapse and sinkhole loss coverage to the principle building as defined in the policy.

Sinkhole Loss Coverage v. Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse

Sinkhole loss coverage and catastrophic ground cover collapse are two different things. Catastrophic ground cover collapse refers to when geological activity results in a sinkhole that's clearly visible to the naked eye, and that causes structural damage to the building including the foundation. The insured structure must be condemned and ordered vacated by a governmental agency.

As a homeowner, it's important to note that catastrophic ground cover collapse refers to the worst case scenario, where your home is condemned and you are ordered to vacate the premises. In some cases the insurer may offer you a policy that excludes coverage for sinkhole losses, in which case they are required to inform policyholders in bold type stating: "YOUR POLICY PROVIDES COVERAGE FOR A CATASTROPHIC GROUND COVER COLLAPSE THAT RESULTS IN THE PROPERTY BEING CONDEMNED AND UNINHABITABLE. OTHERWISE, YOUR POLICY DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOSSES. YOU MAY PURCHASE ADDITIONAL COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOOSES FOR AN ADDITIONAL PREMIUM." (Florida Statute §627.706) This means that some homeowners may opt out of this additional coverage for sinkhole losses, unless of course they elect to purchase additional coverage.

Tampa Sinkhole Claims Attorneys

If you believe that sinkhole activity may be affecting your home, you may feel uneasy about handling the insurance company on your own. Our attorneys Ernie E. Trichler and Jennifer M. Mandelbaum have an extensive background working in insurance defense and also acting as in-house counsel. Our insider perspective on the insurance industry allows us to quickly interpret your insurance policy and your coverage limits. We are more than willing to closely review your insurance policy and have your property examined by experts if we believe you have a strong case, and from that point forward we can provide a strong and compelling argument on your behalf.

When your home is perhaps the largest investment of your life, you deserve to have an ally with knowledge and experience of the insurance industry fighting for the future of your home and your wallet.

Contact a Tampa sinkhole claim lawyer from our firm to discuss your sinkhole claim at (813) 862-1029.

Contact Mandelbaum Trichler Law Center, P.A.

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