Basic Facts about Subsidence Damage Claims in Florida

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

While there can be challenges for homeowners when pursuing any type of property damage claim, subsidence damage can be particularly problematic because the damage can be hard to prove.  While cracks in plaster work and walls might be indicative of subsidence damage, these signs are ambiguous because they also can be caused by natural movement of your home related to changes in temperature and moisture level.

An extremely small crack at a corner joint where block wall and stud wall or a wall and ceiling meet might not be a problem, but a diagonal crack that is wider than the thickness of a penny can indicate a potentially serious issue.  When these types of cracks appear, homeowners should have the damage assessed and repaired to prevent more serious problems that pose potential structural problems.

Subsidence damage can be related to a number of types of causes.  One factor in subsistence claims that is a common area for dispute involves repairs of existing damage while ignoring the cause of the damage.  A drain that is no longer functional can result in the soil being eroded from under your house.  In the wake of such damage, measures like repairing a twisted door frame or filling and repainting cracks in the wall mask the real cause of the damage to the property.  While about one in five subsidence claims have a cause that can be corrected, this cause cannot be discovered without a proper inspection.

Another cause of subsidence problems often occurs in new homes that are built on ground with a high clay content.  As the soil dries shrinkage can cause cracks to appear in the plaster.  Once the cracks have occurred, they do not always close even when the moisture level in the soil increases again following rain.  If vegetation like scrubs or trees are planted close to the home, they can absorb water compounding the problem. A related issue can occur when vegetation close to a home are severely pruned so the amount of moisture builds up and causes the soil to swell.

When you file an insurance claim for subsidence, the insurance company will send an adjuster to conduct an inspection and recommend the appropriate measures to repair the damage.  Because adjusters work for the insurance company as an employee or independent contractor, they have a direct financial interest in limiting the losses that must be incurred by the insurance company.  While this principle applies to all property damage claims, this is especially true when underground repair work is necessary because it is far more costly than patching cracks in walls or the ground.

If your insurer fails to properly investigate, process or pay your subsidence claim, our Miami insurance claims law firm can help you pursue appropriate remedies which might include a lawsuit for breach of contract or bad faith.  If you have questions about Florida property insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Miami insurance claims dispute law firm.  My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes 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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