(Note: this Guest Blog is by Donna DeVaney, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is a series that she and fellow attorney Kristin Demers-Crowell are writing on sinkhole issues).
The last time I wrote, I stressed the importance of maintaining sinkhole coverage on property located in Florida and I explained the very restrictive application of catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage. Now, I want to stress the importance of properly completing the insurance application.
Most applications require the applicant to state whether there is any damage or disrepair to the property and whether there are any known sinkholes in the area. This information is important to insurance companies so they can decide whether they want to take the risk and underwrite the policy. I have seen it on far too many occasions where insureds have suffered a confirmed sinkhole loss at their home or business, but their claim is denied because of a misrepresentation on the application.
While most everyone relies on their insurance agent to fill out the application and signs the application without reading it, it is a very bad idea to do so. Everyone who signs an insurance application should read it thoroughly and make sure all information is correct at the time the application is submitted. If there is damage or disrepair at the property (i.e. cracks, etc.) or if there are any known sinkholes in the area at the time the application is filled out, this information must be disclosed. Even if you follow the advice in my last post and purchase sinkhole coverage, if you do not disclose all information on the application, the insurance company may nonetheless deny your covered claim. Don’t let that happen to you.
Be familiar with the condition of your property at the time you fill out the application and disclose all known conditions that are responsive to questions presented in the application. If you don’t, you may be buying a very big headache down the line.