FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-08
Florida’s geological landscape makes to presence of sinkholes more common than most homeowners would like. Sinkholes are not only dangerous but can cause devastating property and home damage ― making Florida sinkhole coverage a must-have for many Florida homeowners.
Sinkholes in Florida
Florida residents can thank carbonate rocks, such as limestone, for their sinkhole woes. According to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the underground dissolution and chemical weathering of limestone is a major cause of sinkholes. Basically, as acidic rainwater moves through porous limestone, it dissolves some the rock and carries it away. Over several years, this erosion can lead to underground caverns and caves. When the land above these cavernous regions can no longer be supported and subsequently collapses, sinkholes are created.
Sinkholes often continue to grow even after the earth above the underground cavity collapses according to the DEP. For instance, while the primary circular hole of a sinkhole generally forms in only a few minutes or hours, the erosion along the edges of the hole can continue for several days.
There are many types of ways to repair sinkholes, but two of the more common include processes known as grouting and underpinning. Grouting, which is the cheaper of the two options, involves the pumping of concrete under the ground in order to fill the underground voids. Unfortunately however, there is no way to know when the underground cavern is completely filled.
The second option, underpinning, can be quite costly ― meaning insurers are not likely to recommend this option even though it can be a great way of protecting a building from sinkhole damage. Basically, underpinning involves the driving of metal piers into the limestone under a property and then attaching these piers to the building in an effort to stabilize the ground and building.
Often times, homeowners have no idea if their property has any possible sinkholes ― not to mention that contractors often do not test for sinkholes before building private homes ― so unless a homeowner wants to be left footing the bill, sinkholes insurance coverage is of vital importance.
But given that insurance is in fact a business, homeowners can generally expect insurers to act in their own self interests ― meaning insurers will likely attempt to fix sinkhole damage at the lowest cost or even deny coverage if the possibility exists. Consequently, if you have experienced property damage due to a sinkhole, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable sinkhole damage attorney to learn what your available options are given your circumstances.