A Florida Sinkhole Tragedy in Land O Lakes
This past week a massive sinkhole opened up in a Land O Lakes community. Our hearts go out to the families impacted which include those homes immediately affected but also the neighbors and the community at large.
As a local Real Estate Agent, I am thinking today about every home owner I have helped, those potential buyers I am working with, and our community at large. This event has been deemed by Pasco County authorities as one of the largest sinkholes in decades and perhaps the biggest in more than a half century **see article by Tampa Bay Times**.
How to Identify Sinkhole Risks
As a Florida Real Estate Agent, I am asked all of the time about sinkholes and the danger of sinkholes in our community. And, since I am from Central Texas (which is deemed part of ‘Tornado Alley’), I relate sinkholes and the ability to predict them to a tornado in central Texas. I share, my opinion, that there really isn’t a way to predict a sinkhole. One must accept they are living in an area with a higher risk for the event i.e. tornado or sinkhole.
Steps can be taken when deciding on a home to purchase such as visiting the area sinkhole map to determine if there has been reported activity nearby. Here is an example of the Hillsborough County Sinkhole Map:
Other things a homeowner or potential buyer can look for are Sinkhole warning signs. Earth Tech, a local residential sinkhole repair company has published this list of Sinkhole Warning Signs on their website at www.earthtech.com
What Causes a Sinkhole?
A very basic description of what causes a sinkhole may be the opening of a cavity underground. This event causes the top layers of ground to collapse into the cavity.
This video published by Trial Exhibits, Inc. on April 6, 2012, provides an example of how a sinkhole is formed.
How do you Repair a Sinkhole?
By following the signs of sinkhole activity as mentioned above, a homeowner may be able to identify a risk and then call in an expert to eliminate the potential hazard. This would be done before an actual ‘Catastrophic Collapse Event’.
This video published by Trial Exhibits, Inc on April 6, 2012 provides an example of how a sinkhole is repaired.
How does Sinkhole Activity impact my Insurance Costs?
Earth Tech, www.EarthTec.com has published an informative article regarding homeowner’s insurance as it relates to sinkhole protection. The article describes two ways a ‘sinkhole’ is addressed by an insurance policy in Florida. (1) Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse coverage is required coverage in the State of Florida. All homeowners are provided this coverage in their policy. (2) Sinkhole Coverage is a separate rider that is optional to homeowners. They may add the rider, but this will increase their insurance costs.
The following is an excerpt from the article published by Earth Tech:
What Does This Mean?
Basically, when you secure a homeowner’s policy in the State of Florida, you are covered by the Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse for an event like the one that happened in Land O Lakes Florida. However, if you had merely noticed some ‘warning signs’, called in a professional and identified the potential for a sinkhole, you would not be covered for that expense – the expense for the inspection nor the expense to remediate without having purchased a sinkhole rider to your policy.
This link describes further “What the Law Says about Sinkhole Insurance”