Tag Archives: Florida Law 627.707(7)

The Cost of Sinkhole Investigations

My insurance company sent me a letter after I filed my sinkhole claim telling me I may have to pay them $2,500 if they do not find a sinkhole.  Is that true?

Your insurance company is misleading you either because they simply do not understand or they do not want you to pursue your claim.  Either way, shame on them.

As long as there is a “good faith” basis for filing a claim, you cannot be held responsible for the costs associated with your claim.  Understand, there could be liability if the investigation was filed without a sufficient reason to have done so.  The home insurance company bears the burden of proof in showing that property damage did not result from the presence of sinkholes.

To claim or not to claim.

Now, having said that, the standard for whether you could file a claim would mean anything that would be the basis for the claim.  If you found, for example, a crack in a wall, tile, floor, or ceiling, you would have a good faith basis to file your claim.  I once knew an insured who filed a claim without any damage at all, but had filed it because the neighbor had a sinkhole.  In that situation, the Court found a sufficient and good faith basis for what they did.

I can tell you as a sinkhole lawyer, representing both policyholders and insurance companies, no one I have ever met in the business has ever even heard of anyone recovering against a policyholder.  I think the law serves no purpose.  More than anything, I see this used frequently by insurance companies to deter claims, which is not fair.  I suspect this is why no one ever actually recovers from it.

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.