Got that sinking feeling like the world is just caving in under you? No, really … I mean literally are you seeing the foundation of your back patio drop about a meter below your kitchen? Well it’s happening to more and more Floridians, and often in areas that were never before thought to be part of our infamous sinkhole alley. Worse yet, often insurers are either refusing to provide coverage or simply giving the runaround for claims that are covered. Here’s what to know:
1) Much of Florida is Built Over a Limestone Aquifer – Picture a system of natural limestone pipes and caverns filled with water, which literally holds up the state. Drain that water and the caverns give – sending swimming pools, streets, and even homes straight into the ground. More Water Consumption = Less Support for Our Home Foundations.
2) Sinkhole Coverage is Usually Extra – While most mortgages will require that you have sinkhole coverage, few if any insurers actually include sinkhole coverage as part of their standard homeowner’s policy. So ask your agent to be sure to add this coverage.
3) Older Claims – Before Governor Scott pushed through major legal changes two years ago sinkhole claims were usually covered under your homeowner’s policy. If your loss occurred after the law changed but your policy was issued before the legal change your sinkhole claim might be covered. Ask a lawyer.
4) Collapse – In South Florida, sinking often results from something other than limestone collapse – like poor foundation or ground settling. A standard property insurance policy may cover this – particularly if the government has condemned the property. My firm and others review these at no charge.
So, remember, before Mother Nature turns your den into that lagoon-style pool you’ve always wanted, be sure you’ve got the coverage you need.
Russel Lazega is an attorney and author of two of Florida’s most widely distributed legal textbooks on Florida Insurance Law. He has also served as chief general counsel to an auto insurer. Mr. Lazega currently represents accident victims and consumers at war with their insurance companies. He is based in Dania Beach, North Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida. Contact: Russ@- lazegalaw.com.