Maitland Homeowner in Long-Term Dispute Over Sinkhole how Have the New Florida Laws Relating to Sinkholes Affected Insurance Claims?
July 27, 2015
Sinkholes are a common occurrence in Florida. While they can cause a range of damage, most of the time it is very expensive to correct the harm done by sinkholes and to make the property safe for use again. This is why many Floridians have wisely obtained sinkhole insurance coverage. Unfortunately, obtaining this coverage is not a guarantee that repairs will be paid for.
A mother and son in Maitland, Florida have been fighting with their sinkhole insurance carrier, St. Johns Insurance Co., for over six years. The two claim that there is a sinkhole under their home that they first became aware of in 2009. At that time, they contacted the insurer and requested an inspection. The inspector found that no sinkhole existed even though there were cracks present throughout the property. As such, St. Johns denied the claim.
The pair then hired an attorney to represent them and submitted to a number of arbitration hearings, none of which resulted in a solution. Finally, a neutral party was sent out to evaluate the property. This evaluator found that a sinkhole did exist and that damage had resulted to the property. The evaluator also found that it would cost approximately $187,000 to repair the damage and to make the property safe again. The homeowners submitted another claim for this amount but were again denied.
The parties are due for another arbitration hearing in August of 2015. So far, the homeowners have fought a long battle which has forced them to cease updates and repairs to the home, as well as many other activities, all while waiting in fear that the sinkhole might collapse and create an emergency situation.
There have been many changes to the Florida sinkhole laws since the homeowners filed their case. Many of these changes have made it harder for homeowners to recover after sinkhole damage. That is why it is important to consult with an experienced property insurance attorney before even filing a claim with your insurer.
If your property has sustained sinkhole damage and you are considering filing a claim with your insurer, you should contact Tampa property insurance attorney Jeff Pekar today by calling us.