Florida Sinkholes & Insurance Law
Property Insurance Claims
Sinkholes are not just a random disaster in Florida. Sinkholes are a wide spread, natural components of Florida's geography, although some scientists speculate unnatural causes are exacerbating the severity of the phenomenon.
Sinkhole size varies, but simply speaking, they are generally defined as depressions in the surface of the land caused by dissolving bedrock. Large depressions can appear overnight and damage buildings and homes. Florida has more than its fair share of sinkholes because Florida bedrock is principally limestone, which is highly subject to erosion by groundwater, depending on water temperature, acidity and other conditions.
At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, we are committed to helping property owners deal with home or business-related sinkhole insurance claims. Our professional attorneys can help you evaluate your position, explore your options and give you an informed opinion on how to best move forward. It is best to hire an attorney right away, so your lawyer can help submit a claim to your insurance company properly the first time.
The Warning Signs
Chances are, your Florida home is at risk for sinkhole activity. Scientists are working to better predict sinkholes through mapping and soil technologies, but there is currently no sure fire method to predict where sinkholes will strike. As such, you should be aware of the most common warning signs that a sinkhole may be close to your home or building. These signs include the following:
- Freshly exposed fence posts, foundations or tree roots
- Slanting fences or other leaning structures
- Water pooling in new spots
- Doors and windows that suddenly fail to shut
- Plants dying away in discrete, often circular, spots
- Cracks in walls, floors and pavement
- Cracking in a "stair-step" pattern
- Ceiling and wall separation
Remember, these warning signs do not guarantee a sinkhole. Many factors could cause the above issues on your property. The point is, these factors should not be ignored in Florida, and you should have your property inspected by a professional to avoid death or injury.
Florida Laws About Sinkholes
Florida law specifically defines "sinkhole activity" and "catastrophic ground cover collapse" by statute, and the distinction between the two terms is extremely important to Florida residents.
You should know that every Florida insurance company must provide coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse that results in the property being condemned and uninhabitable, but insurers do NOT otherwise have to cover sinkhole losses. In Florida, "structural damage consisting merely of the settling or cracking of a foundation, structure or building does not constitute a loss resulting from a catastrophic ground cover collapse." See Florida Statute 627.706.
To protect consumers from this confusing distinction in the law, insurance companies must inform consumers if their policy does not provide coverage for sinkhole losses. They must also tell consumers (in writing) that they can buy additional coverage for sinkhole losses for an additional premium.
If you are not sure if you have full coverage for sinkholes, you should call your insurance agent to request clarification. Ask about coverage for sinkhole damage, not just catastrophic ground cover collapse, and specifically request quotes for the extra premium costs.
Since Florida sees more sinkhole movement than any other state, you would think that everyone has sinkhole coverage, but this is not the case. Some people try to save money and balk at the additional premiums, and others just do not understand extra insurance is needed. Insurers may also require a property inspection before providing coverage.
Legal Representation In Sinkhole Cases
If you feel you have been denied sinkhole coverage unfairly or need a lawyer that can review your coverage, call the law offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano. As noted above, it is best to have an attorney represent you from the start of a sinkhole claim, so if you need help to determine whether you have sinkhole damage, our office can assist you from the earliest stages of your claim. We can help evaluate your property damage and let you know the best way to proceed.
Contact Our Miami Sinkhole Claim Attorneys Today For Your Free Consultation
The South Florida sinkhole claim attorneys of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have over 130 years of shared experience fighting insurance companies that wrongfully deny insurance coverage. Our attorneys have been voted "South Florida's Top Rated Lawyers" by the Miami Herald, have an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, and have been selected for inclusion in the Super Lawyers list, ranking them amongst the top lawyers in America. Greenberg, Stone & Urbano representatives will be happy to speak to you today about a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell® Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell® Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer-review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.
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