Tag Archives: Failed Sinkhole Repairs

What To Do About a Failed Sinkhole Repair

My home was repaired for sinkhole settlement about two years ago. I was relatively happy with the repairs, although it took forever to complete. But now I’m noticing additional cracking in places where we had damage before and some other places as well. What should I do?

I would notify your insurance company immediately – not necessarily because you are in danger, but because you want to put them on notice as soon as you find damage. It is not uncommon for homes repaired by sinkhole damage to have subsequent damage and sometimes even worsen over time. Depending on how bad the damage is, the insurance company may do additional tests or evaluate the home with other engineers.

This process can get complicated because some sinkhole repairs are only done to stabilize the home and have done nothing for sinkhole activity elsewhere on the property. There are cases where the home, after being repaired, is declared a “total loss” or a “failed repair.” If this happens, you still have rights under the policy and may be able to get additional coverage amounts for the new damage.

If, however, the home is declared a failed repair, you may be entitled to the limits of your policy, regardless of how much was paid to repair your house. (Read my blog post, The Failed Sinkhole Repair, to learn more.)

The sinkhole laws in Florida are very favorable to the insureds and place the burden of repairing the home properly on the insurance company, even if you signed the construction contract. In 2005, the Florida State Legislature made a big push for people to repair their sinkhole-damaged homes. The downside of that for insurance companies was that more houses got repaired, which increased the number of failed repairs. When that occurred, more people were able to make second claims, many of which forced the insurance company to pay their limits again.

Again, call your insurance company. If you have a new insurance company, call both the one who paid your claim and also your new one. That way, everyone knows what is going on.

Read our tips on filing a sinkhole claim.

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

Sinkhole Claims and Public Information

My insurance company recently told me they are going to file a copy of my sinkhole report, where they found sinkhole activity, with the county.  Can they do this?

Pursuant to “any insurer that has paid a claim for sinkhole loss shall file a copy of the report with the clerk of court”, each county has its own clerk of court, where the information is then cataloged.  Note, the language of the statute only permits this to be done with “paid” sinkhole losses, not claims where the insurance company’s engineering firm fails to find sinkhole activity.

During the 2005 legislative session, A wide variety of new were adopted.  Before you think this change was to protect home buyers, it was not.  Instead, it was designed to mark homes with sinkhole damage, so that no future insurance company would insure it unless the proper repairs could be documented.

Sinkhole Houses Being Sold “As Is”

One issue they were dealing with was the fact that people were being paid for sinkhole claims, not repairing their houses, and then selling them “as is.”  Later, the insureds would have to file new sinkhole claims, which the insurance companies would have to pay again.

The “denied” claims are not to be filed.  I will tell you as a practical matter that many insurance companies are slow to file these reports, as it actually costs them money to do so.  Plus, the failure to file them is not a basis to sue them.  Meaning, if you buy a house with undisclosed sinkhole activity, you cannot sue the insurance company for failing to file a confirmed report.

As we counsel realtors on sinkholes, it is always a good idea to do a document search at the county before you buy a home, and to review your home’s file with the building department.  These materials are public record and can provide you important information when purchasing a house.

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