Tag Archives: Cement Grouting

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Sinkholes?

Does homeowner’s insurance cover sinkholes?

Many homeowners look to their home insurance to fix every problem that occurs. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not the case and depends on your own insurance policy and your level of coverage. For example, if you elected only for catastrophic sinkhole coverage, your insurance will only be there for you if the damage is so bad, your home is condemned. That being said, what should you expect from your insurance? Does homeowner’s insurance cover sinkholes?

What is standard sinkhole coverage?

It is highly recommended that you spring for standard sinkhole coverage; though it’s pricier, and you may not think you’ll ever need sinkhole insurance, sinkholes are not easy to predict and even more difficult to pay for repairs.

If you did opt for standard sinkhole coverage, your insurance policy will cover the cost to stabilize the land and the foundation of your home. On top of that, they must also pay you the cost of any cosmetic damages resulting from the sinkhole.

The grouting loophole

Does homeowner’s insurance cover sinkholes? Well, yes, but always be aware that insurance companies are in the business to make money, and will take advantage of you if you allow them to.

One common loophole is the manner in which your land and your home are repaired. Insurance companies will usually pay to grout the soil, which is essentially one of the only ways to stabilize it. To grout the soil, a cement-based material is injected around the perimeter of the home and to an appropriate depth beneath it.

While this may sound great, this is not an appropriate repair, and your home will likely fail in the future. This is because while some areas have been stabilized, the upper 10 to 15 feet of your soil are likely unaffected by grout, leaving your home susceptible to another sinkhole. To fix this problem, the appropriate repair is underpinning, which connects your home to the ground with poles. While the right choice, this is expensive, so your insurance company is likely to avoid this route if possible.

The cosmetic damage loophole

Lastly, the insurance company must pay for the cosmetic damages to the home. This usually includes the cracking to the interior and exterior, as well as to the floors and the foundation itself.  To be exact, your insurance company is obligated to pay what is required to bring your home back to its pre-sinkhole state.

It is important that you do not receive this check until the repairs are completed because any of these cracks are not visible until the repairs are completed. If you receive payment before anything is fixed, it may feel nice to get some money to help out with your sinkhole repairs, but it is impossible for your insurance company to accurately assess how expensive repairs will be until all the damage is made clear.

What is Chemical Grouting?

What is chemical grouting?

The first thing to know about sinkhole repair is that there are two major methods: grouting and underpinning. In many cases, a successful repair uses both of these methods: the grout to stabilize the soil under the property, and the underpinning to solidify the property’s place on the land itself. Sometimes, however, simple cement grouting doesn’t do the trick, and one must look to chemical grouting.

Why do we need chemical grouting?

As aforementioned, cement grouting is used to stabilize soil that has been affected by a sinkhole. It does this by filling in the holes in the soil to thicken the land, which can prevent another sinkhole or further damage to your home. As one can assume, cement grouting uses a cement mixture to harden the soil.

However, sometimes cement grouting is not the most effective method of thickening soil. In conditions like sand, clay, and rock, cement grouting works just fine; however, cement is not as conducive as a thickening agent in shallow, more organic soils. In these cases where cement does not bind, chemical grouting is more useful. With chemical grouting, the grout itself can provide the stability needed in the soil, as opposed to depending on the soil to create the support for your property.

How is chemical grouting used?

In some situations, both chemical grouting and cement grouting are used to create more stable soils. More and more, engineering firms are calling for chemical grouting in the first 10 feet or so, which can stabilize the more shallow soils. This product is not made of cement but is made of polyurethane or other material made to expand and fill the voids beneath the structure. Therefore, where the soil itself can’t help to stabilize your property, the chemicals in the grout step in and quite literally fill the holes.

Above all else, it is important to remember that your insurance company is responsible for returning your home to its “pre-loss” condition. It is our opinion, as sinkhole lawyers, that Florida law requires a consideration of using chemical grouting to properly and legally fix the sinkhole damage. We would suggest you ask your insurance company and your engineering firm to counsel you on your options.