Tag Archives: Engineer Inspector Sinkhole

Selecting an Engineering Firm to Investigate Sinkhole Damage

I recently made a sinkhole claim and was told that an engineering firm would be investigating to determine if sinkhole damage is present. Do I have a say into who is selected, and is so, how would I decide who to hire?

This is a very common concern from homeowners.

There is a general belief-fear that insurance companies will automatically select engineering firms who will always deny the presence of sinkhole activity. I think this is an over-generalization. Overall, the primary concern you should have is that the engineering firm who conducts the investigation is conducting the investigation within the standard of care for professionals who do this kind of work.

The issue often becomes not necessarily what their interpretation of the data is, but instead whether they have conducted sufficient testing before rendering an opinion. If they produce the test results, you can always have the data itself evaluated. Frankly, most insurance companies will get upset if they later discover that the engineering firm cut corners on the manner in which the loss was investigated.

We maintain active databases on most engineering firms who do this kind of work. We see some of the same engineering firms who do the work, and often cut corners. If you are interested, you are free to contact us and we can provide you information on the firm, and give you some questions to ask them. We can certainly give you some pointers on things to watch for when they conduct the testing.

Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.

Citizens Insurance Sinkhole Investigations

Details on Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and Sinkhole Investigations

Because Citizens Insurance is a state-sponsored entity, the materials associated with their activities are more available than other insurance companies.

Most insurance companies, like State Farm, Allstate, and St. Johns maintain most of their internal claims handling information as confidential and proprietary.  But, because Citizens is a public company, Florida allows us to review much of their internal documents.

Therefore, for the purpose of helping any current and future clients experiencing issues with Citizens Property Insurance claims, I did my research.

Request for information

In reviewing some recent materials on Citizens, I found a request for information, submitted to engineering firms who would be retained by Citizens insurance company to conduct sinkhole investigations when insureds submit claims.

I found it interesting on many fronts. Note, in this blog, we seriously try to present information in a balanced way.  I avoid “evil empire” rants, as I think this provides no assistance to property owners at all.  We leave that for the other websites on sinkholes.

Having said that, I think it would be important for insureds to compare their engineering sinkhole reports with the scope presented in this document.  What it reveals is that Citizens appears to have been asking the engineering firms to conduct investigations with specific requirements in mind.

After reviewing these reports

However, having recently reviewed several Citizens’ reports, I can report that many of them do not include many of these.

For example, all engineering investigations should include a floor elevation survey, and this is specifically included in the Citizens engineering scope.  But, many of the engineering reports produced by Citizens skip this part, and I think this is an error (and from the scope they prepared, it appears they would agree).

Therefore, if you have an insurance claim filed with Citizens Property Insurance, take a look at your own reports, and confirm that everything is as it should. You don’t want to be taken advantage of.