Dunedin man who lost home to sinkhole had battled with insurer

Two homes have now been condemned as a result of a colossal sinkhole that opened yesterday in Dunedin, Florida. The 90-foot wide sinkhole swallowed a 14-foot boat, a screened-in porch, a garage, a master bedroom, and a swimming pool in the matter of hours, according to news reports. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed and the sinkhole has stopped expanding.

This disaster is made even more tragic by the fact that one of the homeowners had been battling with his insurance company for about two years in an attempt to have sinkhole damage addressed.

The man reportedly filed an insurance claim for damage related to sinkhole activity in 2011 and the insurance company disputed the claim. The dispute was ultimately resolved, and engineers began pouring grout into the foundation of the home just this week – a mere two days before the sinkhole opened.

At this time, it is not clear whether that work triggered the sinkhole activity.

When evidence of sinkhole activity exists, it is important that the sinkhole activity is stopped effectively and in a timely manner. Unfortunately, insurers often deny claims for sinkhole damage. When insurers do honor claims, they typically recommend grouting. This method is the cheapest option, but many structural engineers do not consider it to be the best solution as it may not properly fill or stabilize the area.

The details of the Dunedin man’s insurance dispute have not been reported. Nonetheless, this tragedy is a reminder that it is very important for Florida residents to identify signs of sinkhole damage in their own homes. Signs of sinkhole damage include cracks or leaks in swimming pools, slanting trees or fence posts, walls that separate from floors and ceilings, and exposed tree roots, among other things. Those who see such signs may be wise to seek legal counsel in order to produce a report on the sinkhole damage and file a thorough insurance claim as soon as possible.

Source: NBCNews.com, “Huge Florida sinkhole forces authorities to demolish two homes,” Elizabeth Chuck, Nov. 15, 2013