Insurance Coverage for Sinkholes in Florida
Sinkholes are part of the Florida landscape. The Florida peninsula is made up of limestone, a porous carbonate rock that stores and helps move groundwater. Soil sits on top of the limestone and over time, groundwater erodes the limestone, forming a cavity.
When the top weighty layer caves in, a sinkhole is created. Periods of drought followed by substantial rain, along with the heavy pumping of groundwater by citizens can trigger sinkholes.
“When there is a widely reported sinkhole occurrence, such as the recent case in Dunedin where a sinkhole swallowed a portion of two homes and a boat, homeowners become concerned about their insurance coverage,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of Great Florida Insurance.
“Florida law requires insurance companies to provide coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse. However, sinkhole damage must meet specific criteria and may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy because the law defines sinkhole damage differently from catastrophic ground cover collapse. Sinkhole coverage is available to add to a homeowner’s policy for an additional cost,” says Ellsworth.
While sinkholes are common in the state, some high profile occurrences around central Florida this year have caused homeowners to become more aware of the risks that come with living in the Sunshine State. Tampa counties including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Pasco are the most affected by sinkholes.
Homes in Florida are not required to be inspected for the possibility of sinkholes and most builders do not have them inspected due to the extra expense. It is impossible to predict when and where the exact location of a sinkhole might develop.
Only a licensed professional geologist with training in identifying sinkholes might be able to determine the possibility of sinkhole activity. It is important to keep in mind, not all potential sinkhole activity can be identified. As a protection to buyers, home sellers are required to disclose when a sinkhole claim was made on a piece of property and the amount that was paid to repair the damages.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “many insurance companies rely upon the regional maps showing zones of sinkhole occurrences based on the local geology and historical sinkhole activity, or on private sinkhole data.”
When choosing a homeowners insurance policy, you must weigh the risk and decide what on the terms that comfort you and your family.
GreatFlorida Insurance is a network of over 100 independent insurance agents serving Florida. Our agents can help you shop around for policies just right for you. We are available 24/7 to serve your needs.
Sources: Florida Department of Environmental Protection