I’m in the process of looking for a new insurance company. The application they provided asks a lot of questions about the condition of the property. I am aware that there are stories of confirmed sinkhole activity in my neighborhood. Do I have to tell them about these other sinkholes, even if I have never had one?

Simple answer first: tell the truth about each of the questions on the application. If they ask you about the age of your roof, tell them what you know. If they ask you about other claims for insurance coverage you may have filed in the past, tell them. The most important thing is that you answer the questions they ask truthfully, completely, and within the appearance of trying to mislead them.

At the same time, you are only obligated to answer their questions on the application and nothing more. You are under no obligation to supplement or “rewrite” their application for them. If they do not ask you about sinkhole activity next to your home, or elsewhere, you are under no obligation to tender that information. In many cases, when a claim is filed, an insurance company will go back and review your application for misinformation. If they are able to demonstrate that you misled them by not answering their question truthfully, they can deny a claim on that basis alone, subject to some legal conditions.

However, they cannot deny a claim because you did not include information not sought in the application. I am aware that at least one insurance company asks you about whether you know about sinkhole activity on an “adjacent” property. If you know that there is sinkhole activity, you would answer it appropriately. However, you are not obligated, if you do not know, to go interview your neighbors and ask them about cracks in their foundation and whether they know anything about sinkholes.

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