Sinkholes are unpredictable, difficult to assess, and expensive to remediate. As they originate beneath the ground’s surface, it’s challenging to determine when and where they might emerge. While testing methods exist, they aren’t 100% accurate, leaving property owners with numerous questions and concerns.
Sinkholes can be either naturally occurring or human-induced. Natural sinkholes result from groundwater eroding rocks, minerals, and soil, creating an underground cavity with limited support. When this erosion weakens the surrounding soil, the land can collapse, forming a sinkhole.
Human-induced sinkholes, on the other hand, result from construction activities such as drilling, mining, excavation work, or any situation where the ground is disturbed. Heavy traffic can also trigger sinkholes due to the weight of vehicles, bridges, and roadways.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), sinkholes tend to cause the most damage in states like Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, sinkholes are often categorized as “earth movement,” along with earthquakes, and are typically not covered by standard property insurance policies. However, you may have the option to obtain sinkhole coverage as a separate endorsement to your policy. It’s advisable to consult your insurance agent or broker to determine whether this coverage is available and suitable for your needs.
In some states, like Florida, insurers may be legally required to offer additional coverage known as “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” which doesn’t always explicitly include sinkholes and may come at an additional cost. Florida is particularly susceptible to sinkholes due to its high levels of rainfall, tropical storms, and subsurfaces prone to erosion from such weather events.
It’s worth noting that property insurance typically only factors in the value of your home or commercial building and does not consider the land’s value. Therefore, if a sinkhole were to develop on your property without causing damage to your building, it would typically not be covered.
If a sinkhole happens, contact us at Hooten and Associates; don’t handle a sinkhole claim alone.
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