My insurance company just sent me the report following my sinkhole investigation, along with a letter that really tells me nothing. When I read this, what should I be looking for?

Reports prepared by geologists and geotechnical engineers following the investigation of a sinkhole claim can be very difficult to understand. They contain a voluminous amount of general information, much of which is of a highly technical nature. However, there are certain issues to look for in reviewing a sinkhole investigation report prepared by your insurance company’s consultants.

The Florida Statues require professional engineers and professional geologists performing sinkhole investigations to “perform such tests as sufficient, in their professional opinion, to determine the presence or absence of sinkhole loss or other cause of damage within reasonable professional probability…”

Engineers and geologists performing sinkhole investigations typically perform tests including geophysical surveys, such as ground penetrating radar and electrical resistivity. These studies look for odd areas (called “anomalies”), which may or may not be sinkhole activity. At a minimum, the engineer or geologist should study these further.

There are several indicators of sinkhole activity, which may be uncovered by an SPT boring. First, the SPT borings may indicate the presence of subsurface voids or cavities (usually indicated in the boring logs as “weight-of-rod” or “weight-of-hammer” conditions).  Such voids or cavities often indicate sinkhole activity.  Second, there is often a “loss of circulation,” which is a movement of fluid in the drill rig showing a void. There are also more subjective indicators, which relate to the comparative density of the soil above and below various depths in the boring (very technical stuff). If you find any of these facts in a sinkhole investigation report prepared by your insurance company’s experts or have any other questions concerning the report, you should have the report reviewed by a competent professional.

Read my tips on filing a sinkhole claim.

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