Sinkhole Insurance Claims in Florida
For many homeowners in Florida, sinkholes cause many issues. One of the most complicated issues related to sinkholes, however, is dealing with insurance claims. Florida laws enforce some very specific requirements on how an insurer may handle sinkhole claims. It is important to understand how the claims process in Florida works and how these requirements factor in. This will give you an idea of what you are dealing with when you file a sinkhole claim. Once you have the legalities of your sinkhole insurance claim sorted out, Foundation Professionals of Florida can help you stabilize the sinkhole and repair your foundation to return your home back to top condition.
There are several people that may be enlisted to work together and handle your claim. these include: an insurance field adjuster, who will gather information, inspect the property, and answer many of your questions related to the claim; a professional engineer, to determine whether your building has any structural damage and how severe that damage is; and a professional geologist, to test the area for sinkhole activity.
Evaluation of Sinkhole Damage and Report Findings
Once the field adjuster and structural engineer have determined the extent of any structural damage, the professional geologist may be called in to monitor sinkhole activity. This will give you an idea of the repair plan needed and allow you to begin preparing a plan to complete those repairs as soon as possible.
If the results of the inspection conclude that there is no structural damage to the property, the insurance company can deny your claim without further testing. You can, however, notify the company within the next 60 days and demand testing. You will be required to provide half of the testing costs, which can be up to $2,500. Your insurance company will usually be required to reimburse you for the costs if the additional testing indicates structural damage to the property was caused by a sinkhole. A neutral evaluation may be requested if you disagree with the results found by the engineer or the geologist, or if you are not satisfied with the sinkhole repair and remediation methods chosen.
As long as it is in accordance with the engineer’s report, you may choose the company to complete the necessary repairs and sinkhole remediation to your property. Be sure to provide the stabilization company with a copy of your engineer’s report in order to provide an estimate. You can either provide them with a copy yourself, or request that your insurance company provide them with a copy.
Timeline of the Sinkhole Claims Process
Because the structural engineer must complete a series of tests to determine the severity of the sinkhole case, it may be up to six weeks before before the report can be forwarded to the insurance company. The company will then send you a copy and contact you to talk about the contents of the report. If a geologist is testing the sinkhole area, it may take another two months for the insurance company to receive the report and send you a copy. If the sinkhole has caused structural damage to your property, Florida laws require that repairs begin within 90 days of notification of damage. The repairs must then be completed in 12 months. These repairs may include sinkhole stabilization, which takes around five to six months, and sinkhole building damage repairs, which can take up to three or four months. For this reason, it is important to begin repairs immediately after you are notified of any damage.
Policy Renewal Details for Sinkhole Claims
Policies are normally issued for a one-year term, but a renewal is usually offered if the policy expires while the claim is still open. The insurance company can review your policy and determine your eligibility for coverage in the future once the claim is resolved and has been closed. In most cases, if you want to keep your coverage, you need to ensure that the required sinkhole stabilization and repairs are performed within the time period given, and to the standards specified by the professional engineer.
Payments and Additional Expenses Related to Sinkhole Claims
The insurance company generally makes an initial payment for the cash value of sinkhole damage to your home that is covered in the policy. However, this payment does not include any underpinning, grouting, or other sinkhole remediation and foundation repair methods that are completed underneath the foundation of the structure. Be sure to notify your insurance company prior to any repairs conducted by a professional contractor; most companies will oversee the repairs and pay for costs as they are induced. Most companies also inspect the work after the foundation repairs are complete and the sinkhole has been stabilized to make sure that no additional damage resulted from the repair work. If this is the case, any covered damage replacement costs will be taken care of as the work is finished.
In the case that you cannot live in your home during any part of the repair procedure, your policy may cover additional living expenses. To determine if this is true in your situation, contact your field adjuster. Your field adjuster will work with you to figure out what additional expenses are available to you and your family.
If you are dealing with a sinkhole insurance claim, the last thing you probably want to do right now is hunt for a quality sinkhole remediation company. Fortunately, Foundation Professionals of Florida have the necessary know-how and experience to take care of all your sinkhole repair needs. Contact us today for more information.