Recently, management at Citizens decided to try and settle lawsuits (and potential lawsuits) with over 2,000 customers. As part of the settlement plan, Citizens sent out a letter to these customers offering to pay for any needed sinkhole repairs.
The repairs, most commonly recommended by professional engineers are compaction and chemical grouting. All repairs will be performed according to the specifications of a professional engineer. Citizens will consider additional stabilization options, such as underpinning, if their geotechnical engineering company of choice deems them necessary.
In the event the findings of the geotechnical engineering company hired by these insurance companies, differ from the findings of the the customer’s professional engineer, the customer must allow a certified neutral evaluator, (usually another a geotechnical engineer), to determine if additional repairs are necessary. The findings of the neutral evaluator must be honored both by the customer and Citizens. The insurance company will pay for the additional repairs and for any collateral damage from the repairs, should they occur. In addition, if the neutral evaluator agrees with the findings of the customer’s professional engineer, Citizens will cover “reasonable” costs associated with the customer’s professional engineer’s post stabilization investigation and report and “reasonable” attorney fees related to the “post stabilization process.” Payments for repairs will be made directly to the sinkhole repair company, not to customers.
To encourage customers to agree to the settlement, the letter mentions the tragedy in Seffner and the more recent sinkhole events in Clermont and Dunedin. The settlement, according to the insurance companies, is designed to keep their customers safe.
If you have a lawsuit pending against Citizens, you may want to do some serious thinking about their offer because many aspects of the settlement are in your best interest:
- Citizens will now agree to accept the neutral evaluator’s findings even if they differ from those in the original report.
- The settlement will allow you to get your home or property repaired quickly avoiding further damage and keeping you and your family safe.
- You will not have to worry about any out-of-pocket expenses. Citizens will cover the cost of the neutral evaluation and reasonable attorney fees associated with the post-stabilization process.
- Authorizing the insurance company to pay your contractor directly means that you won’t have to worry about sinkhole repair bills or possible liens filed against your home.
- While you must dismiss your pending lawsuit against Citizens and pay for your own attorney fees, you maintain your right to sue if your insurance company does not pay for the repairs they have already agreed to cover and which are necessary according to the engineer and the neutral evaluator, (when applicable). You can also maintain your right to sue if Citizens does not pay for all “above-ground” damages (cosmetic repair to stucco, pavers, landscaping, and so on).
Address your Sinkhole Problem NOW!
While the tragedy in Seffner and catastrophic sinkhole events like those in Clermont and Dunedin are rare, they do occur. If you and your family are living in a home that has sinkhole damage, no one can predict when or if the instability underground will lead to tragedy. For every day you wait, you put your home and family at risk. The insurance company is well aware of this and that is why they underlined the following statement in their letter…
“We ask that you select a contractor to begin the compaction grouting and chemical grouting work as soon as possible. Delaying these repairs could cause additional damage to your home, or worse.”
At Helicon, we are all but familiar with homes and commercial properties that have undergone catastrophic sinkhole damage. We know that the consequences of a catastrophic sinkhole event goes far beyond the physical damage to the property. Don’t wait, call a reputable sinkhole repair company today!