Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage Caused by a Sinkhole?

homeowners insurance - sinkholeThe  Florida sinkhole that ended a man’s life just a week ago has stirred the nation. Some homeowners never consider the possibility of a portion (or all) of their home being compromised by the Earth simply dropping from underneath it — and they certainly don’t assume they will be in that portion of the home when the tragedy occurs.

Ever since the shocking details of the sinkhole incident were released, people have been asking questions about the safety of their homes and families. In addition to where sinkholes commonly occur, people want to know whether their homeowners insurance can cover damage caused by this unexpected event.

Florida Sinkhole Claims Homeowner’s Life

Last Thursday, the nation was saddened to learn that Jeff Bush, 37, was simply sleeping in his bed when the Florida sinkhole underneath the home gave way and the concrete floor in his bedroom collapsed, dropping him into a 30-feet wide, 20-feet deep hole.

His brother, Jeremy Bush, attempted to dive into the hole to save him after family members in a different section of the home heard what they said sounded like a car crashing into the structure. Jeremy was unable to reach his brother and had to be rescued by first responders. Crews were unable to save Jeff.

According to the U.S. Geogological Survey (USGS) website, “Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by groundwater circulating through them.

Florida sinkholes are not only confined to the state; this geological effect also commonly occurs in Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. But other states, including California, Iowa, Nevada, Georgia and Virginia are susceptible, as well.

Most Homeowners Insurance Policies Don’t Cover Sinkholes

One shocking revelation that arose from the tragedy was that most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by sinkhole damage, like that seen from the Florida sinkhole.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that Florida and Tennessee — the most active states for sinkholes — require insurance companies to offer sinkhole coverage with homeowners insurance, either as a part of a standard policy, or as stand-alone coverage.

But individuals in other states must actively seek coverage for sinkholes, which is sometimes available via an insurance endorsement or home insurance rider that is added to a standard policy.

Without actively pursuing sinkhole coverage to protect against the devastation that occured with the Florida sinkhole, the majority of homeowners across the country will not be financially protected in the event that a sinkhole causes damage to their property. So if you live in an area that is prone to sinkholes, now is a good time to contact your insurer to learn more about sinkhole-protected homeowners insurance coverage options available to you.

(Image: gessleindaniel)