Sinkhole Insurance Claim Attorney
Florida has more reported sinkholes than any other state in the United States. No matter the size or whether you can even see the sinkhole on the land surface, it can cause catastrophic damage to your property. Many property owners don’t even realize that there is a sinkhole activity on their property because the majority of sinkhole activity occurs beneath the land surface. The damages to the building situated on your sinkhole affected property are the clues which suggest there may be a bigger problem lurking beneath your property.
In Florida, sinkhole damage caused by catastrophic ground cover collapses, like the ones covered by the local news are covered on most insurance policies. A catastrophic ground cover collapse is the scenario covered by the news where a house is devoured by a sinkhole. These types of sinkholes are rare but devasting. While catastrophic ground cover collapse sinkholes are generally a covered insurance loss, the rarity of this type of sinkhole makes the insurance coverage give property owners a false sense of security. Property owners must have purchased additional sinkhole coverage to address the more common types of sinkhole loss. Even in this scenario, insurers attempt to use the policy language and Florida law to find reasons to deny your sinkhole damage claim.
Sinkhole Legal Assistance
It’s important to remember that insurance companies don’t have the final say. If you’ve been denied or underpaid for your sinkhole damage claim, then a Property Damage Attorney can help you receive the proper compensation you deserve.
Jonathon Douglas leads the Property Damage team at Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., which has been ranked as Tier 1 Law Firm by U.S. News and World Reports. Their renowned and dedicated service has helped property owners across Southwest Florida turn unsuccessful claims into a chance to rebuild.
Why are Sinkhole Damage Claims Denied?
Florida law has been written to make it more difficult for property owners to recover money for their sinkhole claims. The initial determination an insurer has to make is whether there has been structural damage that may be a result of sinkhole activity. Insurer’s use this structural damage requirement as a barrier to entry for property owners sinkhole claims. If the insurance company does not identify “structural damage” then they will likely deny your sinkhole claim.
Unfortunately for the property owner, a denied sinkhole claim without the insurance company performing geological testing puts the burden on the property owner to demand that the insurance company perform testing in accordance with Florida Law. The property owner may be on the hook for some of the testing costs if the insurance company’s testing company does not verify the presence of a sinkhole loss.
An experienced sinkhole attorney seeks to help you develop a winning strategy to prepare your sinkhole claim for success. Like many other types of claims, sinkhole claims can be complex in nature due to Florida Law and the insurance policy both having requirements which a homeowner must meet if challenging an insurance company’s denial of their claim.
Types of Sinkholes
While there are different types of sinkholes and different causes of the formation of sinkholes, the primary type of sinkhole in Florida is a Subsidence Sinkhole. Also called, a ‘cover-subsidence sinkhole’, this sinkhole occurs over time and not abruptly. Due to their characteristics, cover-subsidence sinkholes are typically suspected if the damage to the structure suggests differential settlement. This means certain parts of the structure are settling and moving at different rates when compared to other areas of the structure. This differential settlement will give rise to warning signs discussed below.
Luckily for Florida property owners, the devastating nature of ground cover collapse sinkholes are the exception and not the rule. Despite the news coverage of these types of sinkholes, the threat they pose is statistically minimal. By no means does this mean this type of sinkhole should not be taken seriously, it simply means that from both the insurance and property owner perspectives, these types of sinkholes do not make up the majority of problems caused by sinkholes.
Sinkhole Warning Signs
Despite being hard to identify and predict, some signs of a slowly occurring sinkhole or one on the verge of sudden collapse can be suspected if you see the following:
- Cracking in the foundation, interior or exterior walls, floors, ceilings and driveways
- Uneven floors
- Nail pops in the ceiling
- Plumbing failures
- Ground beginning to crack
- Depressions on the ground surface
- Door and windows no longer opening and shutting correctly
- Unexplained dried vegetation
- Unexplained water stains
- Unexplained creaking or noises within the structure
If you suspect that your property has suffered from sinkhole damage or your sinkhole insurance claim has left you frustrated, contact St Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas and his dedicated team today, so they can help you get the money you deserve.
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We represent clients throughout Southwest Florida