My insurance company denied my sinkhole claim and stated that the damage to my home was caused by organic material. What does that mean? Organic material is one of the causes of distress to a residence here in Florida. Organic material can consist of many different things but the result is similar….it is bad for a house. Laymans terms is that organic material is something that should not naturally be in the soils and is some type of a material that will decompose over time. It can take many years for organic material to decompose, many times 20-30 years. As that material decomposes it loses its strength and allows settlement of the soils above including the structure. Organic material can be seen when you have trees or trash that has been buried when the contractor built the home and compacted the soils. Many homeowners want to go after the builders in these cases but that can be difficult. First problem as we discussed above, it may take decades for the organic materials to decompose and even indicate that a problem exists. By that time the contractor is likely gone or out of business.

What does this mean for sinkhole cases? Well just because you have organic material does not mean you do not have sinkhole activity as well. They can both be present at the same time. In fact, if both do exist it can be really problematic. The insurance company should also be responsible for repairing both problems as well. It can be expensive because typically underpinning will be required to remediate an organic issue. When looking for organic materials the typical threshold is 5% or more is problematic. So make sure to check your engineering report and confirm that there actually is enough material to be a problem and then also make sure that sinkhole activity is also not present.

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