What are sinkholes?
Sinkholes are holes in the ground that form due to groundwater dissolving the rock below the land, causing a collapse of the surface layer into underground voids. Studies suggest that Florida has cavities of many sizes because much of it is a karstic terrain. Though it is slightly risky living on karst, there are fewer chances of being affected by a karst feature unless it eventually develops into sinkholes. Therefore, while you may enjoy the perks of living in one of the breeziest destinations along the Miami coast, it may come with the risk of a potential sinkhole formation.
Florida Law about Sinkholes
It is crucial to remember that businesses offer two types of insurance coverage: sinkhole damage coverage and catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage, which have additional criteria that may only be met in some sinkhole damage cases. Because Florida is prone to sinkholes, the current law, enacted in 2007, requires insurance firms to include ground collapse coverage with home insurance; however, sinkhole coverage is optional. Residents of sinkhole-prone locations, such as Miami, May benefit from the additional sinkhole coverage.
What to do in case of a sinkhole formation?
Several signs suggest a sinkhole development on your property, some of which might include slanting or sinking of surfaces, a slumping of the ground, cracks in the building or on the sidewalks, or leaning trees and fences.
Suppose you notice these symptoms and believe your property needs to be examined. In that case, you must file a sinkhole damage insurance claim, after which multiple people, including an insurance field adjuster, an engineer, and a professional geologist, must get together to handle your claims.
Everyone will be present to inspect your property for structural damage.
The testing results will determine the payout you will receive from the insurance company. If it is concluded that there is no sinkhole damage, the company is liable to deny the claim and forego further tests. However, there is an option for requesting additional testing, the costs of which you must share with the company but can be reimbursed if further testing uncovers damage.
If your insurance carrier denies coverage, you may opt for a third-party evaluation to analyze whether the damage to your property was caused by sinkholes and the suitable manner of restoration. Sinkholes are typically repaired in two ways: grouting, in which grout is injected into the earth to stabilize it, and underpinning, in which steel piers are used to stabilize a structure. These two procedures are occasionally used in tandem to restore the overall damage.
Sinkhole Claims Coverage
In case it is found that there is indeed sinkhole damage, the law suggests repairs beginning within 90 days of notification, and it must ideally be completed within a year. The insurance company then must make a cash payment for the value of the damage that is covered in the policy. This does not include the damage repair cost; therefore, you have to notify the company before proceeding with repairs, as most companies will jump in to oversee and pay for the proceeding cost of repairs.
For the entire period, it may take from six weeks to two months for the inspection process to determine the damages and severity of the sinkhole. The repair process may go on for 9-10 months in total. Some policies may also cover the expenses if you cannot live at home during the period.
To receive a proper payout, ensure your insurance policy papers are in order, containing the policy number, the decided amount, and other essential details. Make sure to include the earliest damage recorded along with the time, and make sure your statements are clear.
If your claim is denied or your coverage is undervalued, contacting public adjusters is your best bet. We at Santos Public Adjusters ensure your insurance claims are paid at an optimum level for your best benefit.