Florida Sinkhole Insurance Claims: The Basics

Sinkholes were not a common topic in the national media until the last few years when Florida saw increased sinkhole activity.  The surge in sinkhole occurrences, including last year’s tragic death of Jeff Bush when a sinkhole swallowed his home has now made this a prominent national issue.  Sinkholes are so common in our state that Florida law requires homeowner’s insurance companies to cover property loss covered by sinkholes.

However, the Florida legislature modified property insurance laws regarding sinkhole coverage significantly in 2011.  The changes included shortening the period of time for pursuing a sinkhole claim and limiting the types of structures that fall within sinkhole coverage.  These modifications also allowed insurance carriers to mandate an inspection of the premises before paying out for sinkhole losses.

Because of the prevalence of sinkhole issues, Florida property damage insurance attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo recommends that buyers have a property inspected before completing a purchase.  The inspection should include both ground soil tests and engineering surveys according to Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo.  There are many factors that cause a sinkhole such as removing water from the ground, which can be analogous to removing air from a balloon.  When new construction is undertaken, the removal of dirt can also make a sinkhole more likely to occur.

Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo, who used to be a claims adjuster prior to becoming a claims attorney representing policyholders, explains there are three types of sinkholes:

  • Clay Shrinkage Sinkholes: These occur with shifts in the precipitation level on a seasonal basis.
  • Collapse Sinkholes: This type of sinkhole is usually triggered by underground water.
  • Subsidence Sinkholes: This type of sinkhole forms more slowly than a collapse sinkhole.

Evidence of the surge in sinkhole issues is supported by a report by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.  The report concluded that a recent three year period revealed a substantial increase in sinkhole claims.  During this three year period, the total amount paid out on sinkhole claims in Florida increased from $209 million to $406 million.  The agency found that claims, expenses and the amount of total loss all increased during the period of the study.

If your property suffers damage because of a natural occurrence like a sinkhole, your insurance company has a legal obligation to deal with you in good faith.  If your insurance company is not communicating, delaying payment unreasonably, lowballing your claim or denying it without justification, J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo may be able to help.  We may be able to file a bad faith insurance claim lawsuit seeking not only the full value of your claim but punitive damages and attorney fees.

Our Florida sinkhole insurance coverage lawyers invite you to contact us if you are having difficulties with your insurance company.  Because J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo is both a Florida property damage claims attorney and a former insurance adjuster, he is uniquely qualified to protect your interests.  Florida insurance claims attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles property damage claims against insurance companies in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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