September 13, 2016

Today’s video is about answering the question:  How do you fix sinkhole activity?

How do you Fix Sinkhole Activity?

How do you fix sinkhole activity? When homeowners go through a sinkhole claim by the time they get to my office, most of the time, they have either received a report where there’s sinkhole activity or they’ve received a report where there isn’t sinkhole activity and they are blaming the damage on something else.

If we are dealing with that first report where there’s damaged cause by sinkhole activity the question, then turns to “How do you fix sinkhole activity?” This is where a lot of the disputes with insurance companies come up, but what’s the rule?

Well, under Florida law, once an insurance company confirms the presence of sinkhole activity, they must stabilize the building and the land and repair the foundation. Those are the three things. The dispute comes up, though, when insurance companies try and use methods of repair that are incomplete or where they’re not going to be addressing all of the issues at the particular home. Just to use an illustration, what if they found sinkhole activity, but they also found a bunch of organic debris in the soil. Insurance companies would say, “we cover sinkhole activity, we don’t cover organic.” Or, they may have found the presence in some sort of bad soil, like clay and they’re trying claim we don’t pay for that even though we’ve found sinkhole activity.

Well, the rules says – the law says – once an insurance company has confirmed sinkhole activity that are responsible to stabilize the building. Irrespective of what the cause of the damage is. How you do that, though, can still be complicated. Most repair methods for sinkhole activity fall under two categories. Either the use of liquid cement, commonly referred to as grout or what is referred to as “pinning” where metal piers are attached to the perimeter of the home. Grouting is a process where they use injection pipes around the perimeter of the home down to a particular depth.

What this is doing is, it’s trying to fight mother nature. Mother nature is taking water and it’s dissolving limestone and it’s causing movement in the soil. The grouting is designed to cap that process so that it doesn’t continue. Then, if appropriate, underpinning is called for. Now what the underpinning does is, it takes the perimeter of the house and it stabilizes by moving the weight from the surface down to a deeper profile underneath the home. Meaning that the weight of the house isn’t going to be affected by areas of instability within the shallow soils.

Now, this is a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but as a lawyer I am responsible to understand these particular issues and engage experts who can evaluate your report to determine – not just what is the best method, but the one that’s going to make your house as it was before the damaged appeared.

Unfortunately, the insurance company may not share my view of the best method of repair for your home. That’s when I go to work. If you are having difficulty dealing with your insurance company about getting paid on a sinkhole claim give us a call. You take care of your family, I’ll take care of the insurance company.