Florida has more sinkholes than any other state in the nation. Florida law requires authorized insurers to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” but damage caused by a sinkhole may not be covered by your policy.
That’s 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 dissolution (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 – for instance, you may have foundation cracks, 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 an addendum or rider to an existing policy, and for an additional premium charge.
Here are some immediate steps you should take if a sinkhole has appeared on your property, or if a portion of your home has shifted or sunk due to ground cover collapse:
By law, you are entitled to take part in a neutral evaluation program if you and your insurance company disagree on whether damage was caused by a sinkhole.