Imagine you’re outside enjoying a beautiful Saturday afternoon and you notice cracks along the side of your lanai, or even worse pooling of water around those cracks. It certainly will change the mood for the rest of the weekend.
Spring in Florida is upon us and with it brings the site of bright yellow flowers and trees! The showy tabebuia tree announces springtime in Florida, with varieties that flower in pink, lavender-pink, and its signature yellow. It's a time of renewal for nature and brings about new life to our lawns and gardens. We often use this time as our annual deep cleaning for our home before the rains of spring and summer come shortly after.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 35 to 40% of all the land in the U.S. is susceptible to sinkholes. While giant sinkholes often make news, smaller sinkholes are also exceptionally costly to homeowners. In 2009, the average sinkhole claim cost Florida insurance companies over $86,000 for cracked driveways, walls, and foundations. In that year, insurance companies paid out over $97 million.
Sometimes you will not have any warning prior to a sinkhole developing, as it may come about within hours or minutes. But other times, there are signs leading up to a sinkhole collapse. When the sinkhole is on the outskirts of the condominium property, you may not be aware of it. However, if the sinkhole in Florida affects a specific condo unit or common area such as the clubhouse or pool, you will most likely see signs of structural issues. These signs will warn you that something is not right before a sinkhole fully develops.
It's a nightmare scenario; you're at home—maybe even sound asleep in your bed—or perhaps just walking down the street, and all of a sudden, the ground beneath you literally opens up, swallowing homes, cars, trees and even people into a muddy, seemingly bottomless pit. If you're in California, you might attribute such a catastrophe to an earthquake, but in Florida, chances are you've just witnessed—or been the victim of—a sinkhole. Some regions of the country are prone to sinkholes because of their geologic makeup—and Florida is one such region. Believe it or not, sinkholes are more of an insurance risk in the Sunshine State than hurricanes. And Florida has more sinkholes than any other state in the nation.
This story is reprinted with permission from FC&S Legal, the industry’s only comprehensive digital resource designed for insurance coverage law professionals.
There is nothing inherently wrong with buying a home with a repaired sinkhole. However, buying such a home does require a level of caution and diligence and requires various documentation. In fact, buying a home with a repaired sinkhole may turn out to be in your favor, as these homes can be more affordable than homes with no known sinkhole activity. Whenever you are buying a home in Florida, it is wise to examine the surrounding area as well.
Most of the scientific research on sinkholes has focused on areas where limestone, caves and natural springs create prime conditions for earthen collapses. Florida has the most.