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article imageLack of sinkhole insurance gives homeowners cause for concern

By Alan Cairns     Mar 25, 2013 in Environment
You've probably heard about Jeff Bush in Florida, who was swallowed by a sinkhole as he slept. There have been many sinkholes appearing across the United States recently, causing many homeowners to carefully examine their home insurance policy.
If you don’t think that sinkholes are a problem, think again. The sinkhole which swallowed Jeff Bush’s home was unusually large, and while there has been a flurry of sinkhole activity in Florida recently, the US Geological Survey estimates that around 40% of the country is at risk. It’s Florida’s limestone bedrock which put it at high risk, but Missouri, Kentucky, Texas and Tennessee are also known to be at risk, and sinkholes have recently appeared in Staten Island.
Sinkholes are formed when rainwater erodes the limestone bedrock and other rock types found below the ground surface. As the limestone is eaten away it creates a hollow space, leaving a thin later of crust on the surface, which eventually collapses, gobbling up whatever resides on top.
Until recently many people around the country were unaware of sinkhole activity, and would probably expect it to be covered on their home insurance policy. Tennessee and Florida home insurers are required to offer cover for “ground cover collapse” with their policies, but around the rest of the country this is not the case, and this type of cover is rarely included. Many homeowners expect that sinkhole damage will be included on their home insurance policy, and find out all too late that it isn't.
The problem for Florida residents is that “ground cover collapse” can be distinct from “sinkhole damage”. The law defines sinkholes as “landforms created by subsidence of soil, sediment or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater”, while catastrophic ground collapse is defined as “geological activity which collapses the ground cover, depresses the ground cover visibly, cause structural damage to the property or foundations and result in condemnation or vacation.”
This means that unless homeowners have specific sinkhole insurance, insurance claims are required to meet all four criteria in order to be classed as “catastrophic ground collapse”.
Sinkholes should give homebuyers cause for a concern, and will almost certainly affect property prices I sinkhole-prone areas. Homebuyers should consider surveying a property for sinkhole risk before buying, and ensure that the appropriate insurance can be purchased.
Experts have attributed the flurry of sinkhole activity in Florida with the weather, but Alex Jones’ Prison Planet website interviewed Anthony Gucciardi, founder of the Natural Society website, who suggests that sinkholes are caused by fracking.
More about Sinkhole, ground collapse, home insurance, home buyers, Homeowners
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