Will my insurance pay for sinkhole underpinning?
In many cases, underpinning is the best way to fix the damage caused by a sinkhole. Unfortunately, this is also the most expensive route to take, and the only way to do the job right. So, when we look to our insurance company to help foot the bill, how does the conversation usually end? Is sinkhole underpinning usually covered?
The sinkhole underpinning question
We received the following question from someone dealing with a sinkhole opening underneath their home:
I just found out 4 weeks ago that I have sinkhole activity. My insurance company has not denied the claim. However, they want to grout my home, and I do not agree with this kind of repair on my $700,000 home. I have no MTG. They currently want to give me $200,000 for both cosmetics and subsurface. I want underpinning which costs a lot more. In your experience what tends to happen in this case? Who usually wins the insurance co or homeowner?
We deal with these issues all the time. Insurance companies will fight underpinning tooth and nail if their selected engineer disagrees with it. These issue has really only been tried a couple times in Florida and unfortunately, the insurance company has won the issue more than it has lost.
Whether underpinning is necessary is a house-by-house analysis, but there are general disagreements amongst engineers about using it. Some think pins should only be used in the most extreme situations, like when the home is near collapse. Others believe that underpinning can be a useful technique in every case as it will provide added long-term stability for the house. We call this “restorative verse preventative underpinning”. The insurance companies will typically agree that the pins may help long term but then argue that they only have to pay for what is necessary now. The problem is, the insurance company won’t be there tomorrow so you’re on your own.
Review your insurance policy
As always, we suggest you review your insurance policy before making any decisions. In the sinkhole underpinning situation, however, you may need to get your insurance company on the phone to figure out the next steps.