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Sinkholes in Florida community cause mandatory evacuation

Sinkholes occur in Florida when the bedrock in the ground dissolves, often by water erosion, forming a cavity. Some sinkholes can be quite big and can cause serious structural damage to a person's home. Recently, some Florida residents had to evacuate their homes due to the nearby formation of a number of sinkholes.

Recent reports note that eight townhomes had to be evacuated recently due to the expansion of some sinkholes in the area. One resident reported that there were as many as five sinkholes and that the formation of the sinkholes sounded like an explosion. The size of the sinkholes ranged from 15 to 25 feet across. According to the area fire department, a privately-owned water main break was responsible for the formation of the sinkholes. One resident reported that the bathroom in his home was cracked due to the sinkhole.

Many people in Florida have homeowners' insurance and may expect that if their home is damaged by a sinkhole they will be covered. However, this is not always the case. While under state law insurers must cover homeowners facing the condemnation of their property that has become uninhabitable due to a catastrophic collapse of the ground the home is on, under the law this does not need to include sinkhole damages. Therefore, insurers are responsible for making sure policyholders know whether or not sinkholes are covered under their homeowners' insurance policies. Also, policyholders must be notified in writing if they have the opportunity to purchase sinkhole coverage.

Understanding the terms of a homeowners' insurance policy is imperative if a person wants to file a claim. Florida law on sinkholes and insurance coverage can cause confusion to those who are unfamiliar with it. Homeowners interested in this topic will want to do their own research to learn more about when a home and commercial property insurance claim can be filed due to sinkhole damage.

Source: The Weather Channel, "Florida Sinkholes Force Residents to Evacuate Ocala Homes," Sean Breslin, April 26, 2018

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