We’ve all heard of sinkholes occurring in communities throughout the nation. When they occur, they might swallow cars, houses or even people. They often cause significant property damage as a result of their unpredictability.
Florida has a higher number of sinkhole occurrences than any other state due to its unique topography. As a result, home insurers in the Sunshine State face very specific regulations on how they must cover sinkholes and other catastrophic ground collapses. Therefore, if you encounter such an issue on your property, you must check your policy terms to see if you have the requisite benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at the difference between sinkholes and catastrophic ground collapses.
What are sinkholes?
Changes to Florida law have defined sinkholes differently from catastrophic ground collapses, and the differences in definition will affect eligibility for coverage under homeowners insurance.
The law defines a sinkhole as follows:
“A landform 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 dissolution (the dissolving) of limestone or dolostone or by the subsidence as these strata are dissolved.”
A sinkhole can form in an area of your property where there is little to no risk of damage to your home. Under these circumstances, your homeowners coverage might not cover the cost of sinkhole remediation and property damage. To be eligible for this coverage, the sinkhole must qualify as a catastrophic ground collapse.
What is a catastrophic ground collapse?
A catastrophic ground collapse is defined by Florida law as an occurrence that is more severe than a sinkhole. It is classified as a 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
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
To qualify for sinkhole coverage under your homeowners policy, the sinkhole damage must meet all four benchmarks to be defined as a catastrophic ground collapse.
However, there are still mechanisms available to help you insure your property against sinkholes that do not meet these criteria. All Florida property insurers must offer sinkhole coverage as a rider or addendum to standard property coverage. You can purchase this optional benefit, which will then be added to your homeowners policy. If you have a sinkhole that is not a catastrophic ground collapse, you can file a claim against your sinkhole coverage for compensation.
Talk to one of our agents about the coverage provided by a sinkhole insurance endorsement today.