A typical homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover sinkholes or other instances involving movement of the earth such as earthquakes and landslides. However, the law in Florida requires insurers to cover catastrophic ground cover collapse.
Defining Ground Cover Collapse
This is when the ground gives way and causes structural damage to a building and its foundation. While a sinkhole can cause that type of damage, it doesn’t always do so. When significant damage occurs, the cost to rectify it can be extremely expensive.
Examine Your Homeowner’s Policy
Ask your insurance agent if sinkholes are covered in your policy and under what circumstances. Find out what damage has to occur before the insurer will cover it. If the policy doesn’t include sinkhole damage, consider adding a rider to the policy specifically for sinkholes. If your insurer offers neither option, you can purchase sinkhole coverage from another company that does.
A Common Occurrence
Sinkholes are more common in Florida than most people know. Much of the soil is highly porous limestone rock. Sinkholes are becoming even more commonplace due to climate change, ever-increasing land development, and intense rainfall that destabilizes the soil. Other factors include building artificial ponds, drilling activities, constructing roadways, and collapsing old mines.
The Threat is Real
Some individuals go their entire lives without experiencing a sinkhole. Others aren’t so lucky. It’s almost impossible to determine where a sinkhole will occur. However, there are some signs to watch for that may be an indicator of a potential sinkhole.
- Cracks in walls, floors and ceilings
- Doors and window that don’t close properly
- Muddy well water
You may never need sinkhole coverage, but it’s better to be insured and not need it, than experience a catastrophic loss and not be covered. The potential for extremely costly repairs and replacement on the part of insurers makes them reluctant to cover sinkhole damage. It’s up to you to protect yourself and your home or business against damage from any source.