Damage caused by sinkholes can be extensive, but may not always be covered by your homeowner’s policy. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy excludes “earth movement”, including sinkholes. This means that you are not covered if a sinkhole damages your house or belongings. Read more about how a sinkhole insurance can be right for you.
You can often find gullet protection as a recommendation (sometimes called a rider) for a homeowner’s insurance policy, depending on your insurance company.
Some states, such as Florida and Tennessee, require home insurance companies to offer sinkhole insurance as an optional coverage. However, some insurance companies include sinkhole insurance as part of their insurance policies.
What protection does Sinkhole Insurance offer?
Homeowners̵7; insurances that only cover catastrophic land collapse will cover the cost of damage only under the following conditions:
- The sudden collapse of the ground cover
- A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye
- Structural damage to the building, including the foundation
- The insured structure is condemned and ordered evacuated by the state authority
If your home is damaged by a manhole, but does not meet all four criteria, your insurance cannot pay for the damage if you do not have a manhole cover. Covering of drainage holes covers the circumstance where soil collapses into cracks created in underground limestone, which causes a home’s foundation to settle unevenly. Sink holes are generally not visible until you notice damage.
If you have Sinkhole insurance
If a part of your home has been moved or sunk due to the collapse of the ground cover, or if a drainage hole has formed on your property, take the following steps immediately:
- Ensure your family’s safety and evacuate if necessary.
- Secure or remove valuables.
- Announce CoverLink Insurance.
- Notify your city or county building inspectorate.
Mark the sinkhole or property with a fence, rope or tape to warn others of the danger. If someone is injured in the drain hole, you can be held responsible.
Worried about losing your house to a sinkhole? Do not let your house, and savings disappear. Call us to learn more about Sinkhole coverage. #insurance
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Be aware of the danger
Submerged holes are landforms that are created by soil, sediment or rock sinking as the underlying layer is dissolved by the groundwater. Submerged holes are most common where the rock below the surface is karst terrain, which includes limestone, gypsum and dolomite. About 20% of the US land area is karst.
As the rock dissolves, underground spaces and caves develop. Sink holes usually form very slowly and little change is noticed over time, but they can form suddenly when a collapse occurs.
There are three main types of countersinks:
- Resolution sinkhole. These occur in areas where there is little soil or vegetation over limestone or other bedrock. Water from rain and runoff seeps through cracks in the bedrock and dissolves it. Over time, depression gradually develops.
- Cover lowering holes. These occur in areas where sand covers the bedrock. Individual grains of sand move downwards in openings in the rock, which gradually causes the land surface to sink. Like dissolution sinks, sinkholes with cover lowering occur slowly.
- Cover-collapse countersinks. These occur in areas where the bedrock is covered with a significant amount of clay. These form similar sinkholes with covering depressions, but the cohesive nature of the clay allows a “bridge” to form above an enlarging cavity. When the overlying cover material can no longer carry its own weight, the layer collapses. This can happen suddenly and be catastrophic.
Sink holes can be triggered by natural events, such as heavy or prolonged rain or periods of drought. But sinkholes can also be triggered by human activities, such as:
- Adds weight above cavities. This includes housing development, construction of roads or structures and artificial water ponds.
- Overpumping of existing water supply wells or drilling additional wells in the area. This causes the groundwater surface to be lowered and leaves cave roofs without support.
How to detect sinkholes
Sink holes often develop gradually. If you live in a sinkhole-prone area, here are some signs to look for:
- Cracks develop around doors and windows
- Doors and windows that do not open and close properly
- Deep cracks in the sidewalk, driveway and walkways
- Interrupted plumbing or electricity due to a drain hole that damages power lines
- A circular depression in your garden or nearby area
- Falling trees or fence posts
- Previously buried objects such as a foundation or fence posts that have been exposed when the ground sinks
- The formation of small ponds when precipitation accumulates
- Openings in the ground where rainwater disappears
- Vegetation that withers and dies as water is drawn away by a sinkhole
- Water wells levels that suddenly drop
- Muddy or cloudy well water
When buying a house
If you are interested in buying a home in an area where sinkholes are a common occurrence, make sure that:
- Check that the drain hole protection is included in your insurance as a rider.
- Hire a home inspector who can help you identify potential sinkhole activity.
- If you are concerned that the sinkhole may affect service lines, such as gas, sewage and water, contact your electricity company.
- Contact your state geological survey for further guidance.
- Consider consulting a professional surveyor, hydrologist, geologist or geotechnical engineer to alleviate damage. Here is a list of professional organizations.
Contact CoverLink Insurance today if you have any questions about Sinkhole Insurance.