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A Brief Recap of Florida Sinkhole Insurance Coverage

Sinkhole

Because sinkholes are so common in Florida, it is a good idea to review your homeowners’ insurance policy annually to make sure that you are covered for sinkhole damage. Their commonality is also a good reason for us to provide a brief overview of sinkhole insurance coverage to our clients and other Florida residents. Unfortunately, insurance carriers do not make it easy for policyholders to enjoy the benefits laid out in their plans; moreover, they make selecting the right coverage a much more confusing and complex task than it ought to be. Because of this, many homeowners find themselves out of luck when a sinkhole does collapse beneath their home.

At The Pendas Law Firm, our Jacksonville sinkhole attorneys work with clients whose homes have been devastated by sinkholes to ensure that they receive adequate insurance benefits to cover the damage. If your home was negatively affected by a sinkhole, reach out to our personal injury law firm for guidance and advice.

Homeowners’ Insurance Does Not Automatically Cover Sinkhole Damage

Unfortunately Florida insurance providers are not required to include sinkhole damage coverage in their homeowners’ insurance policies. While they are required to provide “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” ground cover collapses are actually very different from “sinkholes.”

Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse

In order for your home to be eligible for catastrophic ground cover collapse in Florida, it must meet the following four conditions:

  • The sinking of the top layer of the soil must have occurred abruptly;
  • A depression in the ground must have been clearly visible without the aid of instruments;
  • There must have been structural damage to the home; and
  • A government agency must have condemned and/or evacuated the home or structure.

If the damage from a sinkhole meets all of the above criteria, only then will it be automatically covered by homeowners’ insurance. However, if it does not meet all of the above criteria, the damage will not be covered unless sinkhole coverage was purchased separately.

Florida Insurance Law Allows Insurance Companies to Exclude Less Severe Sinkhole Damage

Thanks to Florida Statute 627.706, which was passed in 2007, insurance companies throughout the state are not required to cover less severe sinkhole damage unless the customer purchased separate coverage. However, because the severity of damage was not clearly defined, the Florida lawmakers were forced to draft and pass Florida Senate Bill 408, which significantly narrowed the scope of qualifying damage under Florida homeowners’ insurance. Additionally, the bill stipulated that money from the claims had to be used to repair the property. For the full list of qualifications, review the bill online.

Consult a Jacksonville Sinkhole Attorney

At The Pendas Law Firm, our Jacksonville attorneys encourage clients to stay up to date on all the latest laws and policies so that they may better protect themselves in the event of a catastrophe. However, if you are covered for sinkhole damage and if your insurance company refuses to compensate you, our sinkhole lawyers can investigate the sinkhole incident and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. To schedule a free case evaluation today, call 1-888-LPENDAS now.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona, Bradenton, and Orlando areas.

Resource:

flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0408

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