Sinkhole claims often occur when a part of land made of soil, rock or sediment dissolves from groundwater, and ultimately collapses into itself. Claims arise when there has been structural damage to a building or the foundation of a building caused by the sinkhole.
Florida insurance companies also provide for a catastrophic ground cover collapse. A catastrophic ground cover collapse is a sudden collapse of the ground around the home that is clearly visible to the naked eye, making it uninhabitable and condemned by governmental authorities.
If your insurance claim for sinkhole damage has been illegally denied or denied in bad faith by your insurance provider, it is important to hire an experienced property insurance lawyer in Tampa.
Tampa Sinkhole Damage Lawyer
Sinkholes are dangerous and can happen unexpectedly. This type of damage is costly and without insurance you may never be able to repair your property. That is why it’s important your insurer provides the coverage you were promised. If you’re having issues filing a sinkhole damage claim, consult Germain Law Group, P.A..
Contact the Germain Law Group at (813) 835-8888 for a consultation about your sinkhole damage claim in Tampa, Florida. Attorney Michael B. Germain is knowledgeable in all areas of Florida’s insurance laws and is experienced in all aspects of sinkhole damage. Call the Germain Law Group today about your property damage claim or claim denial throughout the areas in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Brevard County and Manatee County, Florida.
- What Causes Sink Holes?
- Sinkhole Damage Insurance in Florida
- Filing a Sinkhole Damage Claim
- Denial of Sinkhole Damage Claim
- Additional Resources
What Causes Sink Holes in Florida?
Sinkholes can happen anywhere, but they happen frequently in Florida for several reasons. The state is largely underlain by porous limestone, which is type of rock known to hold immense amounts of water. Aquifers are common in Florida and they are often surrounded by limestone. As the groundwater flows through the limestone, it eventually will create a landscape known as karst which is susceptible to limestones.
Aquifers will exert pressure on the limestone, and this helps stabilize the surface layer. That layer is usually composed of clay, slit, sand, none of which are very resilient materials. If a bunch of rain hits that layer, then the surface material may cave in creating a sinkhole. Sinkholes can also happen if water is pumped out of the ground, from hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. The best way to avoid these sinkholes is to pump groundwater back into the aquifers which will stabilize the surface layer.
Sinkhole Damage Insurance in Florida
Every insurer who provides property insurance is required to provide coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapses and to provide sinkhole coverage for an additional premium under Fla. Stat. § 627.706. However, these required policies usually only cover damage that makes a home condemned and uninhabitable. If any other damage results, the insurance policy will not cover the costs of the damage unless the insured has additional sinkhole coverage.
Insurance policies cover contents in the home if there is a loss resulting from catastrophic ground cover collapses. Structural damage that results in the settling or cracking of the home’s foundation or structure is not considered a loss under Florida law.
A sinkhole loss is structural damage to a building, including the foundation, from any sinkhole activity, and coverage of the home’s contents does apply if there is structural damage.
Filing a Sinkhole Damage Claim in Florida
After filing a claim for sinkhole damage, insurance companies are required to follow certain standards for investigating the claims under Florida law.
Under Fla. Stat. § 627.707, insurance providers are required to initially inspect the property and determine if there is evidence of sinkhole damage. After the investigation, the policyholder is required to give written notice to the policyholder of the cause of damage, the policyholder’s rights to request testing by an engineer or geologist, and any other circumstances that may require testing by an engineer or geologist.
If the investigation alleges there wasn’t sinkhole activity or denies the policyholder’s claim, the insurer is required to hire a professional engineer or geologist to conduct testing of the ground and determine if a sinkhole or ground collapse was the cause of the damage at the policyholder’s request. The policyholder’s request must be made in writing.
After the investigation, the policyholder is required to give written notice to the policyholder of the cause of damage, the policyholder’s rights to request testing by an engineer or geologist, and any other circumstances that may require testing by an engineer or geologist.
Denial of Sinkhole Damage Claims in Tampa
Insurance companies will often find many reasons to deny a claim for damage resulting from a sinkhole in Florida. These reasons can usually include there was no alleged sinkhole activity, there was no structural damage to the individual’s home, the structural damage was preexisting or did not result from sinkhole activity, or the damage was excluded by provision in the insurance policy.
If a sinkhole claim is denied in Florida, a report is required under Fla. Stat. § 627.7073 to be issued to the policyholder stating the cause of damage is not sinkhole damage based on examination by a professional engineer or geologist, the analyses and tests conducted were sufficient to eliminate sinkhole activity as the cause, and a description of the tests used.
It is important to hire an experienced property damage attorney if your sinkhole damage claim was wrongfully denied in bad faith by your insurance provider. Upon a denial, your Tampa insurance attorney will proceed with any necessary legal action on your behalf to help you gain the benefits you are entitled to.
How Much Does Sinkhole Damage Cost | USGS – Visit the official website for the U.S. Geological Survey to learn more about sinkhole damage. Access the site to learn how much sinkhole damage cost the U.S. every year as well as articles related to sinkholes archived on the site.
Sinkhole FAQ | FDEP – Visit the official website for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FLDEP) and read their answers to frequently asked questions about sinkholes. Access the site to learn how sinkholes form, how to stop a sinkhole from growing, what to do if you have a sinkhole, and other important information.
Germain Law Group, P.A. | Sinkhole Damage Attorney in Tampa
Contact the Germain Law Group today for a consultation about your property damage claim from a sinkhole in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Brevard County and Manatee County. Michael B. Germain is an experienced property damage claims attorney in Tampa who will listen to the facts of your situation and help you determine the best recourse in pursuing your sinkhole damage claim. Contact the Germain Law Group at (813) 835-8888 for a consultation about your property insurance issues throughout Central Florida, including Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Titusville, Palm Bay, Melbourne, Bradenton, and Palmetto.