This week another massive sinkhole opened up in Dunedin, Florida. This time, the insureds were not killed, but once again the sinkhole activity has been rapid and extremely dangerous. Two homes will be demolished by the end of the weekend and another four have been evacuated.
Here is some of the footage captured of the sinkhole activity.
As reported by WFLA, Channel 8, one of the homes was undergoing Citizens selected remediation of the confirmed sinkhole when the devastation started. The homeowner, like many of our clients, had disagreed with Citizens about the repair method, but after two years of disagreements, relented and let Citizens grout the sinkhole. We know that Citizens is not working with Floridians who have sinkhole claims – crowded court dockets tell it all. Despite the spin Citizens has offered to the media about repair delays, Citizens could have elected to do all the repairs on this claim at the on-set, but was trying to force the homeowner to hire a contractor for Citizens very limited scope or work and nothing further as far as soil remediation is concerned.
Citizens sinkhole cases all seem to have a common theme: the same experts evaluate the damage and find that only a small amount of compaction grouting is needed to fix the problem; Citizens refuses to listen to other experts who say the soil and foundation of the home will not be stabilized if their plan is followed. A quick Google search about sinkhole repair methods will tell any homeowner that deep compaction grouting repairs often fail and other methods of repair, including underpinning the home, have better results. But Citizens refuses to listen.
One might think the past three days of news coverage about the Dunedin loss may have caused the company to re-evaluate, but instead, Citizens has now voted to take away more policyholder rights. As reported in an article yesterday, Citizens now not only wants to force homeowners to follow its Band-Aid repair methodologies, but will require homeowners to only use contractors selected by Citizens to perform the work.
This is a recipe for corruption and bias.
Citizens won’t hire these companies themselves to fix your home, but now they want to force them upon you, and even further handcuff policyholders.
Here are the details announced earlier this week,
Members of the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s Claims Committee voted unanimously Thursday to send a proposal for a $50 million program to conduct minor sinkhole-related home repairs to its full board next month.
Under the proposal, dubbed the Sinkhole Stabilization Managed Repair Program, Citizens will pay the participating vendors directly for the repairs, rather than its policyholders. The vendors must have been in business for at least five years, have sufficient insurance, have documented proof of experience in sinkhole repairs, provide a five year warranty for all repairs and have employees complete background checks to participate in the program.
The contract with vendors would last three years, with the option of two one-year renewals. Policyholders with a sinkhole claim would be able to opt out of the program, but Citizens is looking at making the program mandatory.
Channel 8, WFLA understands there are two sides to every story and has broadcast in depth coverage on the sinkhole. Here is a detailed, full interview with an advocate for homeowners who works as a public insurance adjuster at Tutwiler and Associates. For years, Keith Grams has been helping Floridians with sinkhole claims and now folks in New Jersey with Super Storm Sandy claims. Keith is a strong representative for policyholders. Take a listen:
Want to help the children of families that have lost their homes this week? The Greater Dunedin Community Foundation is setting up a fund to help the two children who are now homeless. Board member Shawn Rudock says a 13-year-old lives in one house and a baby lives in the other. They plan to give them gift cards to buy food and toys. You can learn more about the foundation at: