When sinkhole insurance won’t repair your foundation

To homeowners, the actual cause of damage to their home is not their primary concern. Instead, they are interested in resolving any settlement damage to the property regardless of whether it is associated with sinkhole activity or another, more exotic explanation.

However, because home insurance policies in Florida specifically exclude home foundation repairs that aren’t caused by sinkhole activity, a homeowner’s understanding of these other alternative explanations is crucial.

How clay can cause damage

The most common explanation for settlement damage, other than sinkhole activity, is commonly referred to as “expansive clay.” This explanation is best understood by understanding how a sponge takes on water.

When water is poured onto a sponge, the water occupies the spaces between the pores, causing the sponge to expand in volume. When the sponge dries, the water wicks out and the sponge returns to its original state. That is what can happen to your home, necessitating home foundation repairs.

The same event occurs with clay. Clay, unlike ordinary soil material, has pores in it, into which water can occur space. In some instances, the water can actually trigger a chemical reaction in the clay, which causes it to change characteristics and volume.

When a clay area beneath a home becomes extremely dry, it loses its volume. When the water returns, the clay expands and causes it to move. Ordinarily, when homes and other structures are built, the soil beneath them is expected to remain stable. However, if the contractor fails to make sure the soil beneath the home is not overly clayey, the movement of the soils due to volume changes can result in cracking damage and subsequent very expensive house foundation repairs.

Why this is important

Understanding the common confusion between clay and sinkhole is important too because a clay condition in the soil can also be an indicator of previous sinkhole activity. These kinds of differences serve as a common sticking point between a homeowner and their insurance companies and often require the retention of a sinkhole lawyer.

Therefore, if you’ve submitted a claim with your sinkhole insurance company and they respond with a denial on the basis of the soil being clay, you may still have a chance at getting your home’s foundation repaired.

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