On May 17, Senate Bill 408 – a controversial overhaul of Florida’s property insurance system – became law with Governor Rick Scott’s signature. Although Governor Scott promises the bill will result in a more stable, more competitive private insurance market in Florida, critics of the law argue that it may lead to big problems for Florida homeowners.
Sinkhole Coverage a Particular Concern
One of the more controversial elements of the initial version of the bill was related to mandatory sinkhole coverage. The insurance industry claimed that fraudulent sinkhole claims have been on the rise in recent years and it sought relief from the requirement that sinkhole coverage be a mandatory part of homeowners’ policies. But, as critics of the bill were quick to point out, if sinkhole coverage were not mandatory, insurers would cease to offer it, leaving homeowners with few options if their mortgage companies required them to purchase it.
In the end, the legislature settled on language narrowing the definition of “structural damage,” which makes it more difficult to prove a sinkhole loss. In addition, a policyholder must pay half the cost of sinkhole testing – up to $2,500 – if he requests testing after an insurer denies his sinkhole claim. The policyholder must also make sinkhole claims within two years of his loss.
Sinkholes Remain a Problem in Florida
Unfortunately, sinkholes are a serious problem in Florida. Recent statistics from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) indicate that the total costs of sinkhole claims in 2009 were $406 million, up from $209 million just three years earlier.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
If your home has been damaged by a sinkhole, contact an experienced sinkhole attorney. A lawyer experienced with sinkhole claims can assess your case and help you receive the insurance benefits you deserve. For more information, contact an attorney today.