In the state of Pennsylvania, one may not think that the occurrence of sinkholes is particularly common, or even existent. People generally tend to think of Florida which indeed has the highest sinkhole rate in the US. What may surprise many, however, is that Pennsylvania is ranked as one of the states with the highest level of annual damage from sinkholes. In fact, because of this, the ability to purchase this specific sinkhole coverage is guaranteed in these two states. According to a Geological survey, about 35% to 40 % of the entire United States is susceptible to dangerous sinkholes. Keep in mind that this coverage is typically not commonly included under homeowner insurance and may be requested for an additional cost.
One of the “natural causes” of these disasters comes from excessive groundwater dissolving bedrock such as limestone, this is known to be one of the most common root cause for sinkholes Most common man-made causes include water main breaks, excessive drilling, heavy traffic or diversion of groundwater.
When a mine collapses, it can cause ground movement beneath a structure, which is what we call mine subsidence. Unfortunately, mine subsidence falls under the exclusion of Earth movement. For anyone living in an area that historically has mines, some of which can be over 100 years old and still threaten collapse, it is advisable to firstly consider sinkhole coverage and secondly to look carefully at the coverage form as it may not be included. There may be separate coverage available to add upon request when contacting their agent, this coverage is available through the state and is relatively inexpensive. As a start, one can also search online for: “Mine Subsidence Insurance PA”.
Sinkhole damage may be covered under commercial property insurance as well. Commercial coverage does normally carry an exclusion for collapse. However, that exclusion will give back some specific causes, one of which is sinkhole.
These are some indicators to help predict that you may be susceptible to a sinkhole:
· watch for cracks developing around windows and doors
· windows and doors becoming progressively difficult to open
· depressions in the yard and surrounding areas
· deep cracks in walkways, driveways or the street
· sediment appearing in the drinking water
If someone with a coverage think they have a situation that could lead to a sinkhole, they can contact their agent and insurance company may be able to send out an engineer to evaluate their property.
Even though consumers may consider themselves safe, it is always good to be aware of possible natural disasters occurring overtime. Sinkhole damage can be caught early, avoided, and taken care of. As always contact your agent if you suspect.