Sinkhole Damage Isn’t Covered By Standard Homeowner’s Insurance In Connecticut

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If a home is swallowed by a sinkhole, the damage is not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy in Connecticut, according to the state Insurance Department.

Sinkholes have alarmed the public recently since a man and his bedroom fell into one beneath his home Thursday in Seffner, Fla., apparently killing the man, whose body has not been recovered.

Only two states — Florida and Tennessee — require home insurers to “offer” sinkhole coverage, either as a stand-alone policy or as part of a standard homeowner’s policy, said Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry-funded property-casualty research group.

Sinkholes are characterized as “earth movement,” which is excluded from homeowners’ policies in Connecticut, said Donna Tommelleo, spokeswoman for the state Insurance Department. It’s the same exclusion in a standard homeowner’s policy that means the insurer doesn’t pay for earthquake damage or mudslides.

Some insurance carriers may offer separate coverage for sinkholes through an insurance endorsement or rider, which is added on to a homeowner’s policy, Tommelleo said.

In Florida, where sinkholes are common, the state legislature in 2007 required insurers to provide coverage for “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” according to the Insurance Information Institute.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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3 thoughts on “Sinkhole Damage Isn’t Covered By Standard Homeowner’s Insurance In Connecticut

  1. Heather

    Florida’s sinkhole coverage no longer truly covers sinkholes. Sinkholes found in porches, and garages are not covered. And, sinkholes found in homes must be affect the structural integrity of the home. A friend of ours had a massive sinkhole; under the old laws, it was covered. Under the new laws their massive sinkhole would not have been covered even though it was very much affecting their home. Floridians got the short end of the new legislation. Insurance companies won out, again.

    1. Vart

      Heather:
      I must reply to your comment above.
      If a policy does have sinkhole coverage, an engineer confirms sinkhole activity at the property, porches and garages are covered.
      The State of Florida is not “insurance company friendly ” and very rarely does anything ever favor the insurance carriers.
      Due to the abuse by plaintiff attorneys and public adjusters the state changed the sinkhole laws in May of 2011. They require the home to meet the “structural damage” as defined by FL statue. If the home meets the “structural damage requirement” the carrier by law is required to test the property for sinkhole activity. If it does not meet the requirement, the carrier can move forward denying the claim as the home does not meet the Florida structural damage requirement.
      As a Florida homeowner, I’m happy that they are putting new legislation to combat fraud and the total chaos in the industry. This will help lower the overall cost for property insurance. I’m irritated that my insurance bill is over $2000 a year and is mostly due to people (especially the attorneys and public adjusters) ripping the insurance companies off.

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