Sinkholes are frightening, to say the least. Situations in which the ground suddenly opens up and swallows everything that was on top of it seems like something that would only happen in a movie. Unfortunately, sinkholes do happen in real life, and they are more common in Florida than they are in many other places.
Although thirty five to forty percent of all land in the United States is susceptible to sinkholes, there are some things about Florida which cause it to stand out as a place where sinkholes are even more likely to occur. Geology affects sinkhole risk, and the geography of Florida is conducive to the formation of underground cavities. Florida sits on top of a limestone slab, which is gradually dissolved by the aquifer which percolates through it. Underground cavities are formed by this process, and when the pressure above a cavity becomes too great, the ground above the cavity collapses into it.
Unfortunately, not all homes in Florida are insured against damage caused by sinkholes. Sinkhole coverage raised homeowner’s rates so high that the Florida legislature gave residents permission to opt out of sinkhole coverage in order to obtain insurance that they could afford. Unless you have a separate sinkhole endorsement, the damage may not be covered, unless it meets the strict criteria for a catastrophic ground cover collapse, which is a covered loss under most Florida homeowner’s insurance policies. A catastrophic ground cover collapse will only be covered if there is a visible depression in the ground; there is structural damage to an insured structure; and the insured structure must be condemned. With criteria this strict, it is not difficult to imagine that plenty of sinkholes do a great deal of damage to homes without fulfilling all three requirements for coverage.
While there are both pros and cons to knowing the sinkhole risk for your property, it is important to note that scientists are getting better and better at predicting when and where sinkholes are likely to occur. One group of scientists is combining data regarding past sinkholes with information about geology and hydrogeology to create a sinkhole vulnerability map which will predict sinkhole risk in various areas. A team of scientists from NASA is developing a system for using technology located in the sky to detect ground movement which could signal sinkhole activity. As the methods for assessing sinkhole risk improve, homeowners will have to wrestle with the question of whether or not they want to know the sinkhole risk in the area where their homes are located. In areas where the risk is high, preventative measures like filling underground cavities with grout could save both homes and lives. Unfortunately, these preventative measures come with a hefty price tag and do not appear to increase property value or even prevent property value from plummeting once it is discovered that it is located in a high-risk area.
You can reach Miami 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].