In the coming year, more and more homeowners insurance companies will be non-renewing sinkhole loss coverage, then requiring an inspection prior to issuing coverage again. No big deal, right? Wrong.
These “Sinkhole Surveys” are simply a curtain to hide the underhandedness of these sly corporations. While it appears they are simply doing their due diligence in assessing their risk to insure, in reality they are laying the groundwork to outright deny coverage for sinkhole losses. It seems like they’ve taken a page from the health insurance industry regarding pre-existing conditions (and we all know how that’s going); however, they are denying sinkhole loss coverage for pre-existing conditions that don’t exist.
In short, they are denying coverage for sinkhole loss without properly determining what the risk for sinkhole activity is. How so? Well, in my case, I was denied sinkhole loss coverage because of cracks in my concrete driveway. No engineering firm performed a geotechnical study to assess if there was sinkhole activity or a risk for sinkhole development on my property. There was only a brief visual inspection that I handed over $90 to have performed. I suppose the insurance underwriters equate driveway cracks to a sinkhole loss; if this were actually the case, nearly all current policies in force would be a sinkhole loss. Having their cake, and eating it too. For now.
In my opinion, the “Sinkhole Survey” inspections are an underhanded and illegal tactic to reduce their liability.
FS 627.706(1)(b) states that the “…insurer shall make available, for an appropriate additional premium, coverage for sinkhole losses on any structure…” It goes on to say that the insurer can inspect the property prior to issuing coverage, but it gives no latitude for them to completely deny coverage. In practice, the insurance companies are being lazy and denying coverage completely, rather than calculating the appropriate premium increase based on risk. And what they are doing is not per the direction of the Laws of Florida.
Where are the lawyers and our governing representatives regarding this matter? I’m not hearing much.