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 the 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, some recommend that buyers have a property inspected before completing a purchase. The inspection should include both ground soil tests and engineering surveys. 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.
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, you should talk to an experienced insurance claims lawyer.
You can reach Miami Sinkhole Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].