It was 1992, the average price for a new home was approximately $122,500.00, Nirvana was topping the charts, and Jay Leno was taking over for Johnny Carson. The pop culture buzz surrounded the separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Hurricane Andrew would hit the coast of Florida in August and cause a recording breaking amount of damage and destruction for our state. But there was another property damage issue in Florida that was not making national news.
In 1992, the Florida Legislature mandates a study on sinkhole claims and sinkhole issues. Under the direction of the Department of Insurance, Florida State University’s Center for Insurance Research conducted the survey. Some 20 years ago, the Study of Sinkholes was submitted and two main sinkhole concerns were brought to light: the way sinkhole investigations were conducted and the organization of the data from sinkhole occurrences- with an aim at creating a central clearinghouse of sinkhole data for its dissemination to the public.
Yes, nearly twenty years ago, today’s sinkhole issues were front and center, and both the Legislature and the Department were involved.
The results of the 1992 study stirred attention and the geotechnical experts gathered for the first sinkhole summit. Open File Report 72, “Geological and Geotechnical Assessment for the Evaluation of Sinkhole Claims” was written.
In 2004, another devastating year of hurricane losses in Florida, the Legislature again requested an assessment of sinkhole damage and insurance coverage in Florida. Sinkhole Summit II was held in Tallahassee in September 2004. Merlin Law Group’s Kelly Kubiak observed this summit where twenty five professional geologists, geotechnical engineers and others addressed sinkhole investigations in Florida. Special Publication 57 was published in 2005. While many of the sinkhole statutes have changed over time and are no longer current or operative, the report provides valuable information to readers who want a better understanding of sinkhole conditions, investigations, and subsidence testing.
More information about sinkholes, Florida sinkholes in particular, can be gained from the sinkhole information pages at the Florida Geological Survey’s webpage. FGA is a state government institution specializing in geoscience research and assessments to provide objective quality data and interpretations. It is a branch of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Some of the resources on this site are provided from the Florida Department of Insurance, but the publications and reports are worth a read and should be studied by those who are involved in sinkhole claims. After all, understanding our history will help us in the future.