In an effort to reduce costs for insurance companies, the State senate is pushing forward a bill which addresses sinkhole damage claims, as well as other claims.
The new bill is expected to contain many of the provisions found in a bill which was vetoed by Governor Charlie Crist. One of these provisions includes a time limit on filing claims after a hurricane and one which will make the rate approval process easier to navigate. It is also expected to address other cost drivers such as fraud.
The new bill will include provisions targeted at reducing what insurance companies are paying out for sinkhole claims. The insurance industry claims that many sinkhole claims are not legitimate. However, part of the reason for the surge in sinkhole claims is due in large part to the recent explosion in real estate development throughout Florida, especially in South Florida. Over development has left the ground susceptible to sinkholes. Plus, while sinkholes occur in other U.S. states, Florida is more prone to sinkhole related problems because of underground limestone that dissolves under certain conditions, especially in areas that have never been over developed, according to many leading geologists.
The state Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee is expected to release an interim study on the state’s sinkhole insurance climate. Between 2006 and 2010, $2 billion in claims have been paid out. This payout amount nears the amount paid out in a small hurricane.
Insurance companies are concerned about these costs due to the large number of claims for foundation cracks that are attributed to sinkholes. However, the insurance industry states that these claims may not be sinkhole related. Because insurance companies contend that they cannot often rule out that the damage was caused by a sinkhole, especially in light of all the over development that has taken place over the past few years, tens of thousands of dollars are being paid out by the insurance companies to resolve these claims.
Our Miami insurance dispute lawyers handle sinkhole claims for homeowners. Our attorneys represented insurance companies before 2006, when we opened a firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers. We understand how insurance companies work. And we have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent homeowners in disputes over an insurance claim.
The new bill is expected to contain language which will define structural damage from a sinkhole. It is also expected to contain language on what is and what is not covered by insurance policies. Governor-elect Rick Scott is expected to support this bill which may further regulate public adjusters.
If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.