My home was damaged during the ugly storm season of 2004, by the wind.  We never did file a claim.  Now, we see damage that looks more likely to be settlement.  How does sinkhole damage differ from that caused by hurricane and other storm damage?

Storm damage and sinkhole damage presents in entirely different ways.  Storm damage is often referred to as impact damage because the damage is causing the walls to move or to suffer impact from the increase flow of air.

Additionally, homes can be damaged in storms due to the impact of debris upon the home, damaging windows as well as walls.  Conversely, settlement damage caused by sinkhole settlement results from a loss of support the home when the foundation sinks or moves unevenly.

Can You See Stair Steps?

Sinkhole damage usually appears in a stair step pattern, as opposed to the diagonal but straight damage lines caused by storms.  The stair step damage of sinkholes so tends to follow the mortar joints of the walls, while storm damage tends to ignore these boundaries and can even caused damage to the bricks and mortar themselves.

Overall, because a named storm enters your area, it is always a good idea to conduct an exterior audit of your home,  to determine if any damage is present.  Use of digital and video cameras programmed with the dateline code and time will help provide proactive documentation.  That way, if there is a storm, you can document that the damage to the home was not present when the storm hit.

Whether a storm is the cause of the damage or whether it is a sinkhole is important because these two losses are paid in different ways, and may be subject to different deductibles.  For example, sinkhole losses have a flat, predetermined amount ($500, $1,000), while hurricanes have a percentage of the total insurance coverage available (e.g. 1 percent, 5 percent).

Have a burning question you”™d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.

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