(Note: this Guest Blog is by Kristin Demers-Crowell, an attorney with Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office. This is a series that she and fellow attorney Donna DeVaney will be writing on sinkhole issues).
When I took Geology to satisfy my science requirement in college I never dreamed a future legal career would lead me to spend so much time on the subject. Anyone with the misfortune of having a sinkhole claim soon learns that “Rocks for Jocks” is not as straightforward as that moniker suggests.
While insurers typically cover sinkhole losses, other earth movement is excluded. Often, geotechnical engineering firms hired by insurers blame damage on decaying buried organics or expansive clays. These claims are worth a second look.
Two experts widely used by insurance companies to investigate sinkhole claims, Anthony Randazzo of GeoHazards, Inc., and Sam Upchurch of SDII Global Corporation, say in their treatise, The Geology of Florida: The Environmental Geology of Florida:
Shrinking/swelling clays and organic materials are commonly associated with alluvial sinkholes and may be concentrated within sinkholes.
So, if you have been denied coverage for cracking damage, dig deeper and get a second opinion. Those organics or clays could be associated with sinkhole activity.