We first posted on this story about a month ago. If you recall, a large sinkhole opened up directly next to a home in Ocala, swallowing the homeowners Dodge Durango. The car had to be lifted out of the hole with a crane and the homeowners were advised to stay away from the house. This matter has taken some interesting turns in the past 3 days. This firm, Barfield Law Group, in conjunction with Ted Corless of Corless Associates has assumed representation of the homeowners. The homeowners are insured with Citizens but unfortunately do not have sinkhole insurance. They do however have catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage. Catastrophic ground cover collapse insurance as defined by Florida Statutes occurs when:
Geological activity results in all the following:
1. The abrupt collapse of the ground cover;
2. A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye;
3. Structural damage to the building, including the foundation; and
4. The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the governmental agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure.
We would encourage everyone who has not seen the pictures of this damage to do so now before reading the rest of this blog. The surprising thing is this claim was originally denied by Citizens who argued that the home had not suffered structural damage and had not been condemned. I will say after further review from their engineers, Citizens has changed their tune and it appears this claim will be covered after all but this is a great example of exactly how worthless the new sinkhole coverage in Florida is and the problems the laws create. If this 40 foot wide gaping sinkhole that left a family homeless does not meet the definition of structural damage or catastrophic what does? I’m sure the homeowners would be happy to tell Citizens how catastrophic this event has been to them. Stay tuned as this case progresses as it is a perfect poster child to demonstrate all the flaws and disconnects in our law here in Florida.