While many residents in the Tampa Bay area elect sinkhole coverage under the terms of their homeowner’s insurance, there are some homeowners who do not elect it- either because they don’t understand how prevalent sinkholes are in Florida, aren’t informed properly by their agent, or simply can’t afford the ever increasing sinkhole premiums. Most would assume that if you do not have sinkhole coverage, you cannot make a claim for sinkhole related losses and generally, this may be true. However, there are some cases, where the sinkhole activity is so dangerous and ominous that the homeowner may have to consider filing a claim for catastrophic ground collapse. For example, a widening sinkhole/depression on your property that is getting deeper and spreading and causing damage to building or pool may still be covered under your insurance policy’s catastrophic ground collapse provisions even though you don’t have sinkhole coverage.
The definition of catastrophic ground cover collapse can be found in Florida State 627.706. This statute defines “catastrophic ground cover collapse” as geological activity that results in all the following: the abrupt collapse of the ground cover, a depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye, structural damage to the covered building, including the foundation, and the insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the governmental agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure. If you believe you may have a sinkhole on your property, but do not have sinkhole insurance, in certain circumstances, you may be able to proceed under this theory of catastrophic ground cover collapse and still be able to move forward with a claim against your insurance to repair your property. If you see signs of sinkhole activity on your property, call the attorneys at Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation and understanding of your rights as an insured.