Florida Sinkhole, Sinkhole Testing & Sinkhole Repair FAQ
Q: Can I Be Canceled For Filing A Sinkhole Claim to get my property tested?
A: It is illegal for an insurance company to cancel or refuse to renew a policy of insurance because a homeowner filed a claim for sinkhole damage. Chapter 627.707 (8), Florida Statutes, spells out the law with crystal clarity by saying,

"No insurer shall nonrenew any policy of property insurance on the basis of filing of claims for partial loss caused by sinkhole damage or clay shrinkage as long as the total of such payments does not exceed the current policy limits of coverage for property damage, and provided the insured has repaired the structure in accordance with the engineering recommendations upon which any payment or policy proceeds were based."

The Florida Legislature enacted this provision, and in doing so ensured that homeowners need not fear being canceled for filing a claim for possible sinkhole damage.

Insurance Canceled Or Non-Renewed Anyway?
It's illegal to cancel or non-renew a homeowner's insurance policy because of a claim for sinkhole activity. The law is black and white - and every insurance company knows it! But still…sometimes an insurance company will simply ignore the law and cancel or non-renew a homeowner anyway.

This is a serious violation of state law and likely constitutes "bad faith" on the part of the insurance company! If your homeowner's insurance has been canceled because you have filed a claim for sinkhole activity, it is very important to speak to an experienced sinkhole attorney immediately! In the past SinkTeam has been able to negotiate with some insurance companies where it agrees to rescind the cancelation notice and continue insurance coverage, while other times a lawyer is needed to file a civil remedy notice alleging bad faith actions on the part of the insurance company causes the insurance company to be more inclined to settle a sinkhole claim. SinkTeam can get you in contact with the right sinkhole attorney.

It is important that you act quickly to preserve your rights and ensure you continue to maintain homeowner's insurance! Discuss your options with SinkTeam by calling 813-435-1616 today!

Insurance Canceled Because Of Something Else
Some insurance companies try to get crafty! They know Florida law prohibits an insurance company from canceling or non-renewing an insurance policy because a homeowner filed a cliam for sinkhole activity. So instead of listing the reason for the cancelation or non-renewal as sinknhole related, the insurance company will list a different reason.

Q: Do I Have to pay for Sinkhole Testing? Sinkhole Fraud?
A: There is no cost to the homeowner. In entering an agreement with the insurance company both parties are to work together in "good faith." By law, the insurance company is responsible for providing and paying for 3rd party testing by a geological testing company. In return, the homeowner is responsible for being upfront, honest and truthful about the home problem and reveal any pre-existing damage. See more in by clicking here for more about Florida Statute Sinkhole Laws.

If someone files a claim with the intent to defraud an insurance company, he or she may be liable for insurance fraud. This is a serious crime that impacts all Floridians, and insurance fraud should never be taken lightly. Whenever filing a claim for insurance benefits, whether it be sinkhole related damage or something entirely unassociated, it is important to always be upfront and truthful. Not only is sinkhole fraud illegal and can possibly subject someone to criminal penalties, fraud is also grounds for an insurance company to deny a claim and cancel an insurance policy.
Types of insurance fraud that may occur in sinkhole claims may include:

Mistake Vs. Fraud
Fraud is always a mistake, but a mistake is not always fraud. Humans make mistakes, and being legitimately mistaken about something is not fraudulent many times. For instance, if you answered a question on your insurance application, believing it to be correct even though it later turned out to be incorrect, that is not fraud. If you purchased a home with prior sinkhole damage, but you didn't know the home had prior sinkhole damage and thus didn't disclose, your failure to answer correctly is not considered fraud.

Nonetheless many insurance companies may try to cancel, rescind and deny your claim based on any indication whatsoever of fraud. If you have any questions concerning insurance claims and potential fraud, or your insurance company has denied your claim or requested you submit to an examination under oath where fraud might be a factor, it is important to speak to an experienced insurance professional, such as the licensed Florida public adjusters at SinkTeam. We can help you understand your rights, and assist you in dealing with your insurance company to ensure that your rights are protected and the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you.

Q: Can my House be Repaired? What are the repair methods? Warranty?

A: It is possible to repair a sinkhole home. There are a number of different remedies that professional engineers will recommend as adequate methods to firm up the soil and ensure the home is properly supported on a firm foundation.

Grouting The most common method of sinkhole repair is grouting. During a grouting repair, pressurized concrete is pumped into the ground around and below a home. The goal of grouting is to cause the concrete to fill any potential voids (such as sinkhole voids), and otherwise denseify any loose soils. Numerous holes will be drilled around the home, and big concrete trucks will drive up and pump the concrete dozens of feet below the ground. In theory, the concrete will harden over time, and prevent the home from sinking further.

Problems With Grouting Grouting is a very unscientific process - pour a bunch of concrete into the ground, and hope it fixes the problem. And in fairness, sometimes concrete grouting can be successful. But there are major problems with concrete grouting - the most basic being that nobody, including the engineers, can know what happens to the concrete once its pumped into the ground. Perhaps it does as intended and fills voids below ground. Or perhaps it sinks into the aquifer and is washed away. Maybe it will end up underneath a neighbor's yard, or perhaps concrete will suddenly spring from the ground blocks away - all of which has happened in the past.
In one familiar example, over 500 cubic yards (about 50 concrete trucks worth of concrete) was pumped under one home. But just months later, geologists performing tests on the property could find no traces of concrete anywhere - it just disappeared!

No Grouting Warranty If the old adage of “put your money where your mouth is” is accurate, it may be telling that no grouting company will offer warranties on grouting repairs. Nobody. Why? Because grouting is so unscientific and unpredictable that nobody - not even the grouting companies themselves - can know with any degree of certainty that grouting works! What doesn't come with a warranty these days? And if there's no warranty, can you really trust it?

Don't Be Forced Into Grouting! Many insurance companies will attempt to insist that a homeowner repair his or her home though grouting. Why? Because grouting is often the cheaper way to fix a home! But cheaper isn't necessarily better, particularly when it comes to sinkholes. Don't let an insurance company force you to accept substandard repair protocols.
If your insurance company has recommended that your home be grouted, call the experienced adjusters at the SinkTeam today. SinkTeam will consult with you for FREE, either in person or by telephone, listen to your problems, answer your questions, and help you understand your rights and options. Call today to arrange a FREE, no cost no obligation consultation by calling 813-435-1616.

Underpinning Sinkhole Repair Method A common alternative preferred by many homeowners is a sinkhole remediation process known as “underpinning” or “pinning.” There are numerous types of pinning available, but the most common types of pinning involve attaching steel rods to the foundation of the home, and driving those rods into firm bedrock deep in the soils. This process transfers the weight of the home from the dirt underneath the foundation, which the concrete slab rests on, through the steel rods into the bedrock below. A way to think of it is like a home resting on stilts - a stilt home - except the stilts are in the ground. The weight of the home is no longer dependent on the sinkhole impacted soils beneath the home - the weight rests on competent bedrock deep in the earth.

Built Like A Skyscraper! Many skyscrapers are built by sinking heavy steel pilings deep into the ground, and building the skyscraper on these pilings. Pinning a home is, to some degree, a similar process. For most homes, however, pinning can be overkill if the home rests on a solid soil foundation - normally the concrete slab resting on soil (known as a “slab on grade foundation” is more than adequate to support a home - a home weighs a lot less than a sky scraper! But when the soil underneath the concrete slab is sinking away, the soil can no longer support the weight of the foundation and the home - hence the benefit of a steel pinning system to transfer the weight down into competent bedrock!

Warranted Pinning is almost always warranted for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, or even for life! Compare the pinning warranties with grouting - which offers no warranty! Why is pinning warranted? Because it is a much precise method to repair a home. Pinning companies sink the steel rods deep into bedrock, and then level the home using exacting measurements. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for cracks in a home being pinned to actually close up by themselves as the home is re-leveled!
For more information on pinning, questions about pinning or sinkhole repairs in general, contact SinkTeam today for a FREE consultation at 813-435-1616.

Q: How Long does the Sinkhole Process take?
A: Typically testing takes about 3 months. The total claim takes anywhere from about 6 months to 15 months for settlement

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