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Sinkholes 101: Am I covered?

Large sinkhole with cars trapped inside

Did you know that close to 40% of all the land in the USA is at risk for sinkholes? Most occur in Florida, but Pennsylvania holds the #2 position. Recently we all read about the HUGE sinkhole at the Tanger Outlets in Lancaster PA.  The big ones always get covered on the news. But smaller sinkholes are also costly to homeowners and small business owners.

People sink a lot of money into their homes, vehicles and their business property (if they are business owners). Mortgage companies even require people to protect their assets with adequate insurance, yet very few require any inclusion of sinkhole insurance. It’s available to purchase as a rider policy and if you live in Lancaster county, you should seriously consider purchasing it being that two-thirds of Lancaster County is susceptible to sinkhole development, according to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

What Are They Anyway?

Sinkholes are natural depressions or holes that that form in the earth’s crust and they’re a phenomenon that happens all over the world. They have been known to swallow up cars, roadways and even structures like homes and businesses – and in the case of the Tanger Outlets, a huge section of their parking lot, complete with the automobiles of their customers.

Underground in Lancaster County there are large sections of limestone and dolomite that are close to the surface. These rocks are more easily dissolved than other rocks by a weak, natural acid formed by the mixture of water and carbon dioxide. The dissolving process is enhanced along the many fractures found within the bedrock, and over time this has created a unique subsurface plumbing network.

How to Protect Your Investment.

Quite a number of homeowner and business insurance policies offer special endorsements to cover sinkholes. Without the additional endorsement, if your home or business is swallowed up, you won’t receive a single cent. Your vehicles need protection too. Simply make sure you have included comprehensive coverage on your vehicle insurance and they’ll be covered… as well as other common occurrences such as fire, inclement weather, falling objects and theft.

So, What’s It Cover?

Sinkhole insurance will provide coverage for damages to your business or home, outlying property and personal belongings kept inside the building if they are damaged in the event of a sinkhole on your property. Even a small shift in the earth beneath the foundation of a building can cause severe structural damage. A major sinkhole can swallow up the entire building and its contents.

Be certain to carry enough coverage to allow you to completely rebuild if your home or business is completely destroyed. This insurance will also cover necessary preventive measures, such as structural bracing, to keep an impending sinkhole from causing severe damage to your property.

Your sinkhole insurance policy may not provide coverage for damages from mine subsidence, so be sure to review your policy carefully to see if you need additional insurance.

For more information on whether sinkhole coverage is right for you, contact us today!