Florida has more
sinkholes than any other state in the nation, and if you live along the Nature
or Suncoast, you live in what is nicknamed “Sinkhole Alley” – the part of
Florida that has the highest concentration of sinkholes.
Florida law requires insurance
companies to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse.” But even with this, damage
caused by a sinkhole may not be covered by your policy. This is because the law
defines catastrophic ground cover collapse differently from sinkholes.
Florida law defines a sinkhole as: “a land form created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater. A sinkhole may form by collapse into subterranean voids created by the dissolving of limestone or dolostone or by the subsidence as these strata are dissolved.”
“Catastrophic ground cover collapse” is defined as: “geological activity that results in all of the following: 1). The abrupt collapse of the ground cover; 2). A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye; 3). Structural damage to the building including the foundation; and 4). The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the government agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure.” This means that if your home is damaged by sinkhole activity, but does not meet all four criteria for catastrophic ground cover collapse – ie: you may have foundation cracks, or the stucco on the side of your home is cracked, but the home is still livable – your insurance may not pay for the damage if you do not have sinkhole coverage.
All insurance companies licensed to do business must offer sinkhole coverage, usually as a rider to an existing policy, and for an additional premium charge.
What this does not mean is, that as soon as you see some cracks in your foundation or side of your house, that you run to your insurance company and demand that they pay to fix it. Please, understand that most of the time, these cracks are cosmetic, not sinkhole related, cause no real damage to your home, and will not be covered by your insurance. It is normal for concrete and stucco to crack, as a house ages and settles. If you do have a crack that you are concerned about, a good general rule of thumb is, see if you can fit a penny in it. If you cannot, its just cosmetic. If you can, you may have a problem. But, most of all, know what your policy covers. There is nothing worse than filing a claim and finding out you did not have the right coverage.
If you need some help interpreting the industry jargon, bring the policy by our office, we are located at 1454 Highway 41 in the Inverness Regional Shopping Center. We would be happy to help and love the chance to earn your business.