Tag Archives: Sinkhole

Will You Sink If You Don’t Have Sinkhole Coverage?

The answer to that question would probably be a definite “yes” if you live in Florida—the sinkhole capital of the United States—and “maybe” if you live in Texas, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky or Tennessee. Sinkholes are especially common in these six states. Sinkholes” are depressions in the surface of the ground caused by an accumulation … Continue Reading

Court Finds You Must Submit a Contract for Sinkhole Repairs as a Precondition to Payment of a Judgment

Previously, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal found that homeowners who had their sinkhole claim denied by their insurance company, but who ultimately prevailed at a jury trial could not be paid their $168,000.00 judgment until they entered a contract to repair their home.1 The court reasoned that because the policy and Florida sinkhole statutes … Continue Reading

New Florida Sinkhole Law Effective July 1, 2016

Under a new law that takes effect July 1, 2016, insurers may offer a new type of personal lines residential sinkhole coverage. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed CS/CS/SB 1274 into law, which created Section 627.7151, Florida Statutes, allowing insurance companies, at their option, to provide limited sinkhole coverage for a “sinkhole loss” to homeowners—which is … Continue Reading

Questions “Of Great Public Importance” Certified to Florida Supreme Court Regarding FIGA’s Obligation to Homeowners with Sinkhole Claims – Part 1

Suffering a sinkhole loss is already difficult enough, but for those homeowners with a claim being handled by FIGA, the process can often become even more complicated. This can occur when the terms of the insurance contract issued by the original, now insolvent, insurance carrier arguably conflict with FIGA’s duties and obligations under the Florida … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Rejects Insurance Carrier’s Argument (Again) that Insured “Concealed” Material Fact By Not Providing Sinkhole Report

A while back, my colleague, Shane Smith, wrote about a case, Herrera v. Tower Hill Preferred Insurance Company,1 where Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal considered – and then rejected – Tower Hill’s claim that its insured had violated the policy’s “Concealment or Fraud” and “Duties After Loss” provision by not disclosing their sinkhole expert’s … Continue Reading

Court Finds Burden of Proof For Sinkhole Loss Was Improperly Placed On Homeowner

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently reversed final judgment against a homeowner and remanded for a retrial after a jury was instructed that the insured had to prove the damages to his home were caused by a sinkhole. The case, Mejia v. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation,1 stemmed from an insurance claim brought by a … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Sinkholes: How are Insurance Companies Responding?

Gene Veno of the American Association of Public Adjusters recently sent out an alert about a neighborhood suffering severe sinkhole damage. We often see these reports for Florida and Tennessee – but Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is now suffering from sinkhole losses. Similar to the Sunshine State, Pennsylvania is one of the top states at risk for … Continue Reading

Florida House Members Prepare to Vote on Citizens Sinkhole Bill

After yesterday’s legislative session in Tallahassee, it appears the Florida House of Representatives’ final vote on House Bill 129 – commonly referred to as the “Citizens Sinkhole Repair Bill” – may take place as soon as this Friday, April 11th. The proposed legislation seeks to change certain aspects of Florida’s sinkhole law, though only for … Continue Reading

Florida’s Neutral Evaluation Statute May Mean More Delays in Sinkhole Litigation

If you thought the notion of taking a “time-out” only applied to sports, think again. In Florida, properly invoking neutral evaluation under Florida Statute § 627.7074 is similar to requesting a time-out because it stays, or pauses, sinkhole-related proceedings. Though the nonbinding, informal procedure is intended to help parties resolve disputed sinkhole insurance claims, unless … Continue Reading

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Trying to Rewrite the Rules in Sinkhole Loss Claims

An insurance contract is simply an agreement. The policy itself contains the terms of the agreement and acceptance of a premium payment binds this agreement. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is Florida’s largest property insurance provider and as I discussed recently, is exposed to bad faith, according to the First District Court Appeal.… Continue Reading

Cheap Sinkhole Repairs Threaten Property Owners

On November 14, 2013, a sinkhole forced more families out of their homes in Dunedin, Florida. This hits especially close to home because I grew up in Dunedin and attended high school about one mile away from the affected neighborhood.… Continue Reading

Citizens’ Double Standard in Sinkhole Loss Claims

If you live in Florida, you have seen the media reports over the past year and half exposing Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s many failures. Citizens’ approach to Sinkhole Loss claims is no different. Florida law requires all insurance carriers, including Citizens, to repair below ground damages and immediately tender the actual value of the above … Continue Reading

Liberty Mutual wrongly denying your sinkhole loss claim: A glimpse into the future reveals help may be on its way

On June 27, 2013 the Florida Supreme issued an important decision addressing the issue, “whether, under Florida Statute § 627.736, an insurer can require an insured to attend an examination under oath as a condition precedent to recovery of personal injury protection “PIP” benefits? In Nunez v. Geico General Insurance Company,1 the Florida Supreme Court … Continue Reading

In a Sinkhole Loss, the Insurer Obligation Does Not End After the Property Has Been Stabilized

In prior posts, I explained that in the event of a sinkhole loss, insurance carriers are required to stabilize the land and building, repair the foundation, and pay to repair the above ground damages resulting from the sinkhole loss. After explaining the different methods for subsurface repair, many of my clients become concerned because the … Continue Reading

State Farm More Concerned With Its Own Interests Than Policyholder Safety

In Florida, when a policyholder reports a sinkhole loss, carriers are required to conduct a subsidence investigation. The purpose of this law is to protect Floridians’ lives and property. In this situation, policyholders are concerned damages to their properties are getting worse, and it is common for them to fear the worst, a catastrophic event.… Continue Reading

Repaired Your Sinkhole and the Damages are Back? A Florida Woman’s Home is Worse Off After Her Carrier Allegedly Repaired Her Home

Many insurance carriers attempt to force their insureds into subsurface repair contracts based on the carrier’s recommendations. In fact, carriers will refuse to provide coverage for a valid sinkhole claim unless the property owner repairs the property exactly the way the carrier recommends. Interestingly, the carrier will not agree to be liable if the recommended … Continue Reading

Unless They Pay Policy Limits, Florida Law Does Not Allow Insurance Companies To Nonrenew Your Policy Because You Suffered A Sinkhole Loss, But This Does Not Stop Carriers From Trying

Florida’s sinkhole problem is well documented; however, a common problem related to sinkhole claims is not discussed enough. Many carriers improperly nonrenew insurance policies after an insured reports a sinkhole claim. Just today, for example, Olympus Insurance Company nonrenewed a client’s policy, despite confirming a sinkhole loss just one month ago. My client’s neighbor reported … Continue Reading

Why Do Insurance Carriers Attempt to Avoid Liability for Their Sinkhole Remediation Recommendations?

Last week, I posted about a carrier’s right to “elect to repair” an insured’s sinkhole affected property. Why do carriers rarely elect this option? It may have something to do with the fact that many engineers testify that they cannot certify sinkhole conditions at an affected property have actually been remediated by the repair protocol; … Continue Reading

Did You Know That Your Insurance Carrier Has The Right To “Elect To Repair” Your Sinkhole Affected Property?

Many policyholders who suffer a sinkhole loss do not know their insurance carrier has the right to repair their property. In other words, the carrier can elect to retain the necessary contractors to perform subsurface and above-ground repairs. The policyholder wins under these circumstances because if the repair method fails, the carrier must pay for … Continue Reading