Options may be available if attempts to repair Florida sinkholes fail
According to an insurance industry study, Hernando County – which is located to the north of Tampa on Florida’s west coast – wasn’t even ranked in the top seven Florida counties for sinkhole activity in 2002. However, the Tampa Bay Times reports that within a mere 10 years, Hernando County skyrocketed to the top of that list.
Sadly, sinkholes are becoming quite common on Florida’s west coast given the area’s geological landscape. Specifically, sinkholes generally appear when the ground collapses above underground voids – which develop over time as the limestone that once occupied the space slowly dissolves and washes away.
While dealing with the damage brought about by sinkholes can be extremely frustrating for a Florida homeowner, these feelings can quickly turn to anger when insurance companies essentially force the homeowner to agree to particular repairs – especially if the “suggested” sinkhole repairs fail to actually fix the problem.
Dealing with insurance following failed Florida sinkhole repairs
In the past, Florida law specified that insurance companies would make sinkhole hole repairs in “consultation” with impacted homeowners, however, a 2011 amendment to the law changed all that. In that year, the law was altered to simply state that insurance companies only need to give homeowners “notice” of the sinkhole repairs – effectively taking the homeowner out of the decision making process.
As a consequence, insurance companies are basically free to recommend the least costly sinkhole repairs in an effort to save money – which often proves to be inadequate to remedy the situation.
However, when these insufficient sinkhole repairs fail, Florida homeowners need to know that they have options available. For instance, insurance companies are obligated to complete sinkhole repairs in Florida, even if the repair costs are greater than policy limits.
If repairs fail to alleviate sinkhole damage, Florida law mandates that insurance companies continue with additional repair efforts, regardless of costs. However, if a particular insurance company decides not the continue repairs, they must, under Florida law, pay the homeowner the full policy limit without deducting the amount already spend on sinkhole repairs.
Seek assistance if involved in a Florida sinkhole dispute
Tragically, the number of sinkhole insurance claims has almost tripled in Florida from 2006 to 2010, according to a report issued by the Florida Office of Insurance. With such a drastic increase in claims, insurance companies will likely be more aggressive than ever when evaluating these claims. Accordingly, if your home has suffered damage due to Florida sinkhole activity and the insurance company is giving you the runaround, it is often a good idea to speak with an experienced sinkhole damage attorney. A skilled attorney can not only provide helpful advice, but also assist in the exasperating insurance claims process.