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Sinkholes can turn a property or an entire community into a disaster in moments, and rack up damages valued into the multi-millions. Unfortunately, insurance companies can fail to adequately compensate property owners who are dealing with the consequences of a sinkhole that damaged a home or other structure. Insurance companies have been found, in some cases, to have engaged in bad faith behavior in sinkhole damage claims. If you are dealing with this problem, connect with our firm now for help.
Insurance Bad Faith in Sinkhole Cases
Homeowners pay premiums to insurance companies in order to protect against certain eventualities, including sinkhole damage. After consistently paying your premiums, year after year, it is devastating to be offered compensation that couldn’t possibly cover the actual costs associated with sinkhole damage – but it happens.
Are you a victim of this practice? If so, our legal team in St. Augustine stands ready to hold insurance giants accountable for acts of bad faith.
Why You Need a Sinkhole Damage Attorney
If your property was damaged by a sinkhole and you believe you are eligible for compensation, it is important to retain an experienced sinkhole attorney. Insurance companies often hire experts who have vested interests and attempt to minimize the amount paid in compensation.
There are many areas of damage that could be contested by an insurance adjuster, such as a claim that the damage was due to the prior condition of a home, or existing faults in the home’s foundation.
Some sinkhole damage that includes more than one house or municipally owned property, such as roadways, can generate multiple claims that could slow the ability to repair a home or other structure for months, or even years. That’s a lot of time to be forced out of your home or to live in a neighborhood that is plagued by major traffic obstructions.
Fighting Back Against Insurance Companies
Our insurance attorneys can assemble a team that investigates the actions of the insurance company. Did the insurance company do geological testing, as required under law, or did they cut corners, with a cursory, drive-by look at your property? Homeowners have the right to fair treatment from their insurers.
At our firm, we are very familiar with the strategies insurance companies employ to take advantage of homeowners, with low offers, slow payouts, denials, and failing to do the testing as required under law. Sadly, it is the homeowner who pays the price, unable to live in a home, or living with unsightly or dangerous damage. Our legal team levels the playing field for the “little guy” who needs to go up against a giant insurance company and their corporate defense lawyers.
Do You Have a Sinkhole Claim in St. Augustine?
If your property has a sinkhole, you must act fast to protect your family. Mark the hole and keep it secure from people and animals. If the sinkhole is causing your house to sag, or has cracked the foundation, do not enter the home for any reason. Sinkholes on private property are the responsibility of the homeowners, and you must call and report the situation to your insurance company at once.
If a large sinkhole forms your property, particularly if it is affecting structures or a swimming pool, it is very important to ensure the area is roped off with clear warnings and contact local law enforcement to report the hazard.
In St. Augustine, Florida and throughout the state, insurance companies are required to provide insurance coverage for damage from “catastrophic ground cover collapse.” There are four conditions that have to be met in order for most homeowner’s insurance to cover the damage.
- Top layer sinking must have occurred abruptly
- The depression must be clearly visible to the naked eye
- There must be structural damage, including the foundation
- The building must have been condemned and evacuated by order of a government agency
If you have purchased separate sinkhole coverage, you may be covered for repairs, depending upon the terms of your policy, and the nature and size of the sinkhole. In either case, there are time limits associated with filing a claim, and it is imperative that you act fast.
Was Your Sinkhole Claim Denied?
Insurance companies are required to conduct standard testing under Florida law. In some cases, they take shortcuts. These shortcuts can lead to a valid claim being denied, or a homeowner being offered compensation that is far short of what is needed to fully restore the property. Our sinkhole attorneys will determine what testing was or was not conducted and if any important information about the claim was overlooked.
It is important to retain legal counsel if you are dealing with an insurance company that is attempting to avoid paying you for sinkhole damage, under the terms of your policy. Call us for a free consultation.