They’re dark, they’re mysterious and you certainly wouldn’t one forming under your home.
We’re talking about sinkholes, that weird phenomenon that occurs when the ground – weakened by heavy rains or other factors – suddenly decides to sink downward.
This happened in Studio City in February when a 20-foot sinkhole formed off of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, sending a driver and her car down into the abyss. The 48-year-old motorist had to be helped out with the use of a ladder. And needless to say, that had to be the strangest thing she ever experienced!
But what if a sinkhole formed under your house, causing it to drop down 4 or 5 feet? Would your insurance cover that? We’re not aware of any carrier in California that covers this in their regular policy or as an add-on to a regular policy. And since sinkholes rarely occur in the Golden State … it’s unlikely that you’d luck out in that regard.
Now Florida? That’s a different matter because sinkholes – while not exactly common – do occur there from time to time. They call it “catastrophic ground cover collapse” and insurers in Florida are required to offer it, although it won’t cover every circumstance in which a sinkhole occurs.
The thing you have to remember is that all homowners policies in California have exclusions, and here are some of them:
- Flooding (as in surface water, waves and tidal water)
- Earth movement, like sinkholes and landslides
- Water below the surface of the home that seeps into the home
- A nuclear hazard
- Termites and other forms of infestation
- Government action, such as the confiscation of insured property by a government authority
- Intentional, meaning an act by an insured to cause a loss to his or her home
You can buy separate policies for earthquake and flooding – but sinkholes are not included under earthquake coverage. Ditto for landslides.
And circling back to that sinkhole in Studio City that swallowed the car … Oddly enough, comprehensive car insurance coverage would most likely cover that damage. But that doesn’t work with homes.
Your only hope there is that a government agency like the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services might step in so you wouldn’t be forced to launch a GoFundMe campaign to pay for your damage.
If you have any questions about any of this, check in with your insurance agent. Hopefully, you won’t be sinking into the ground any time soon! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what your exclusions are.