What exactly is a sinkhole?
The reason the word “sinkhole” is one word is that scientifically, and legally, the real issue is not usually whether something is an actual hole in the ground but whether or not it is being impacted by sinkhole “activity.” Because the most common issue associated with sinkhole activity is whether or not it is covered by insurance, Florida legally decided the definition of sinkhole and what constitutes “sinkhole loss.”
Definition of Sinkhole
You can find the : (b) Sinkhole is defined as a landform created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater. A sinkhole may form by collapse into subterranean voids created by dissolution of limestone or dolostone or by subsidence as these strata are dissolved.
Definition of Sinkhole Loss
Within the world of property insurance, “Sinkhole loss” is defined as structural damage to the building, including the foundation, caused by sinkhole activity (Section 627.706, Florida Statutes).
In layman’s terms, a sinkhole forms when rock beneath ground dissolves. Soil, due to gravity, falls into the holes in the rock. When the soil moves, the surface shifts, damaging the home.
Difference Between Legal and Scientific Definition of Sinkhole
Oftentimes, the reason why insurance company sinkhole investigations reveal “no sinkhole,” while others say “yes sinkhole,” relates to the differences between the legal and scientific definitions. When Florida adopted the sinkhole definition many years ago because it became an insurance issue, the definition was not necessarily lifted from the scientific literature.
Many times, when we retain experts for our clients, who are either disputing how to repair a sinkhole, or whether there is a sinkhole, the problem comes down to how the insurance company defines sinkhole. Most of the time, we are able to get the insurance company to change their position by demonstrating that you can have a sinkhole loss, even if there is not a large, gaping sinkhole in your yard.
Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.