Tag Archives: Neighbor Property Sinkhole

Sinkholes and Neighborhood Sinkhole Activity

I submitted a claim 2 months ago, and waiting for Citizens Property Insurance to provide me information about my sinkhole claim.

I am aware of at least 2 confirmed sinkholes in my neighborhood, one which is directly next door to our home. Should I tell them about this other sinkhole or keep my mouth shut?

In the context of an insurance claim, more information is always better.

Insurance companies are aware of the scientific and practical relevance of sinkholes adjacent to a home under investigation. I use the term “practical” because it is very difficult for an insurance company to deny a claim when there is a sinkhole either directly next to or in front of a confirmed home, especially when they are involved in the claim.

Even in cases where there is minimal evidence of sinkhole activity, it can be very difficult for an insurance company to defend a case on a disputed sinkhole when there is a sinkhole on an adjacent property. This is because sinkholes do not know man-made boundaries and jurors place enormous weight on this evidence.

Get Your Neighbor”s Engineering Reports

If you are able to obtain a copy of the engineering reports and provide them to the insurance company, this would be wise. If you are not able to get a copy of the previous reports, but do know the addresses, you may want to at least provide this to the company. As always, put this information in writing, and present it in a constructive manner to the insurance company.

In providing information to your insurance company, your motives are obvious (i.e. “cover my loss”), but that does not mean it is not wise to provide them good information upon which a positive conclusion can be made for you. Later, if the insurance company fails to investigate this new information, this can be important information to a jury that they intentionally ignored information which would be helpful to the engineer they retained to investigate your home.

Read our tips on filling out a sinkhole claim.

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

Florida Sinkholes by County

Florida sinkholes by county

Homeowners or potential homeowners of Florida may be concerned about the threat of sinkholes. They can do a lot of damage to a home, both in the moment of the sinkhole itself and their effect on the property value of a home. The issue at hand is deciding the risk factor of purchasing a home in almost any part in Florida. Is there a way to search Florida sinkholes by county, or is there a better way?

Florida’s sinkhole law

Under Florida law, insurance companies who handle insurance claims regarding sinkholes are required to submit a copy of their report to the county. While this is a great concept, it comes with a couple holes, which unfortunately make it more difficult for Mr. and Mrs. home buyer to make an educated decision about the home they eventually purchase.

The first issue with this law is that it’s not very old. This means that sinkholes that appeared before the law was passed do not appear on any database for sinkholes. The second issue is that some insurance companies just…don’t do it. This means that, while there are many documented sinkholes that you can use to assess the risk of purchasing a home in any given area, it’s almost impossible to get a full picture.

Get educated about the neighborhood

While you may not be able to depend on any sinkhole database, there are steps you can take to be confident about the safety of your home and your family. For example, you can go to the county of the home where you are interested in purchasing and obtain a copy of the building department file, and search the building permits. I would suggest you research both the lot you’re interested in purchasing and the surrounding lots, as the land around your home likely has a similar soil content and may have a history of sinkholes.

Ask your realtor

Realtors know the land when it comes to property better than anyone else – a realtor’s job is to know everything there is to know about the homes they’re trying to sell, so a good realtor is your best bet! If your realtor is less-than-educated about a particular area, they may be able to network with other realtors in the area.  Oftentimes, they will work with each other on these issues, as it benefits the entire industry.  Some realtors may even keep their own database of homes in different areas and would know about problem houses.  For example, my office also keeps a very detailed database on sinkholes, and we share that with people when appropriate.

Your first step: know where sinkholes are common

While the aforementioned suggestions are best if you’re considering purchasing a home in particular, there is one other step you can take if avoiding sinkholes is truly a priority for you. In general, sinkholes do appear in a handful of counties, while others see little or none. Therefore, if you want to start your search of homes with a very little risk of sinkholes,  here is a list of Florida sinkholes by county:

  1. Pasco
  2. Hernando
  3. Hillsborough
  4. Marion
  5. Pinellas
  6. Citrus
  7. Polk
  8. Orange
  9. Seminole
  10. Lake