Show all

Does My Homeowners Policy Cover Sinkholes?

Homeowners policies that cover only catastrophic ground collapse will cover the cost of damage only under the following conditions:

  • The abrupt collapse of ground cover.
  • A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye.
  • Structural damage to the building, including the foundation.
  • The insured structure being condemned and ordered vacated by the government agency.

If your home is damaged by a sinkhole, but does not meet all four criteria, your insurance policy may not pay for the damage unless you have coverage for sinkholes. Sinkhole coverage covers the circumstance where soil ravels into fractures created in underground limestone, causing a home’s foundation to settle unevenly. Sinkholes are generally not visible apparent until you notice damage.

Sinkhole Insurance (3)

What causes a sinkhole?

Sinkholes are created by the sinking of lower layers of dirt or rock being washed away. Sinkholes can be triggered following prolonged periods of heavy rain, construction of buildings or roadways, and lowered water tables.

Sinkhole warning signs

Common signs of a sinkhole forming on your property include:

  • Cracks in walls and floors
  • Cloudy well water
  • Shifting in doors and windows preventing closure
  • Exposure of previously buried items, like foundations or fence posts
  • Dying vegetation or bare spots
  • Cracks on the ground in a circular pattern

What to do in the event of a sinkhole claim

If a portion of your home has shifted or sunk due to ground cover collapse, or if a sinkhole has appeared on your property, immediately take the following steps:

  • Ensure the safety of your family and evacuate if necessary.
  • Secure or remove valuable possessions.
  • Contact your insurance carrier.
  • Notify your city or country building inspection department.

Mark the sinkhole or property with fencing, rope, or tape to warn others of the danger. This also provides a way to see if the sinkhole is increasing in size.

Use caution near and around sinkholes in case of ground collapse. If someone is injured in the sinkhole, you could also be liable.

When purchasing a home

If you are interested in purchasing a home in area where sinkholes are a common occurrence, be sure to:

  • Verify that sinkhole coverage is included in your policy as a rider.
  • Hire a home inspector who can help you identify signs of potential sinkhole activity.
  • Consider testing for sinkholes. Insurance companies shouldn’t require you to have this testing done prior to granting you coverage.