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Field Notes

Florida Sinkholes and Insurance

Will your home insurance policy cover a sinkhole? Here's what you need to know.

The short answer is no; however, it is not that simple. Florida Law defines sinkhole and catastrophic ground cover collapse differently. While your policy does not cover a sinkhole or sinkhole activity, it does cover catastrophic ground cover collapse. Let's look at the differences between the two.

Sinkhole vs. Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse

Florida Law 627.706 defines the following:

“Sinkhole” is a landform created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater. A sinkhole forms by collapse into subterranean voids created by dissolution of limestone or dolostone or by subsidence as these strata are dissolved.

“Sinkhole activity” is defined as settlement or systematic weakening of the earth supporting the covered building only if the settlement or systematic weakening results from contemporaneous movement or raveling of soils, sediments, or rock materials into subterranean voids created by the effect of water on a limestone or similar rock formation.

“Catastrophic ground cover collapse” means geological activity that results in all the following:

1. The abrupt collapse of the ground cover;

2. A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye;

3. Structural damage to the covered building, including the foundation; and

4. The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the governmental agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure.

To simplify, a typical Florida homeowners insurance policy will not cover damages unless all 4 of the above criteria are present.

Can you purchase sinkhole insurance?

Yes. In Florida, insurance carriers are required to offer additional coverage specific to sinkhole damage. Costs to the homeowner include inspection fees, additional premiums, and up to a 10% deductible. Policies may include the structure and contents within and is typically only available to unaffected dwellings. Carriers will require an inspection to determine that no existing sinkhole or sinkhole activity exists prior to approval.

For help with sinkhole insurance, contact a reputable independent insurance agent.

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