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Massive Tampa Sinkhole Latest Example of How Dangerous it is to Gamble with Sinkhole Insurance Coverage, Says Florida Public Adjuster

As a large sinkhole threatens a condominium complex and grabs headlines, Florida public adjuster Tutwiler and Associates warns property owners of an insurance coverage void that could leave thousands of property owners at risk.
July 20, 2010 / TAMPA, Fla. / 

Florida residents know that with every rainy season comes a renewed threat to property owners that draws headlines every time it strikes: sinkholes. Earlier this month, a massive, 20-feet wide by 17-feet deep sinkhole swallowed up a car and forced the evacuation of some residents from a condominium complex in the Temple Terrace area of Tampa, Fla. For Florida public adjuster Tutwiler and Associates, the rainy season means working with property owners who have unsuccessfully gambled with their sinkhole insurance coverage.

The licensed and certified public adjusters have offices throughout the Sunshine State and have noticed a procedural shift that has been in place since January 2010. Right now, policyholders in Pasco County and Hernando County are getting policy renewals without full sinkhole coverage, sometimes even without the property owner’s knowledge. Everywhere else, insurance companies are giving policyholders the option of rejecting the full coverage and using a very enticing carrot of savings on the premium to get policyholders to accept the reduced coverage. The sinkhole specialists at Tutwiler and Associates say the policyholder should not give up their sinkhole coverage or they will be at great risk.

“Opting for anything short of comprehensive sinkhole coverage is just a gamble that can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run,” says Keith Grams, certified public adjuster for Tutwiler and Associates. “Property owners lose the most critical part of their sinkhole coverage when they are left with only ‘catastrophic collapse’ coverage, which only comes into play in those rare cases that make the evening news when an entire house is swallowed up by a sinkhole.

For as bad as the recent sinkhole was in Tampa that displaced dozens of families and threatened the structural integrity of an entire condominium complex, it may actually fall far short of qualifying as a “catastrophic ground cover collapse” in the eyes of the insurance companies. That means property owners who chose to save a small amount of money each month could face a massive price tag to repair damage.

And even if a property owner changes his or her mind and wants to restore their sinkhole coverage, Grams says the property owner could also have to deal with an additional unexpected expense.   “They may call their agent to try to get it reinstated, but they may have to pay the cost of an investigation of their house before the insurance company can augment the policy back to the way it was.”

Grams says property owners in Pasco County and Hernando County whose policy renews with diminished coverage need to immediately call their insurance agent to say they want their full sinkhole coverage restored. Doing so promptly can often negate whatever fee the insurance company may charge the policyholder for a property inspection before issuing the full sinkhole coverage policy.

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Tutwiler and Associates
Phone: (800) 321-4488
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About Tutwiler and Associates: Tutwiler and Associates is a firm of public adjusters licensed in 10 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands specializing in commercial and residential property loss adjusting. With well in excess of $113 million in client success stories over a 27-year history, the Florida public adjusters work exclusively on behalf of policyholders to help them achieve the maximum settlement amounts they can fairly and honestly recover based on their loss and their policy provisions. Professional help from the adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates can help clients obtain a fair recovery under their policy. The Gulf Coast based public adjuster firm is committed to public service and strives to educate its clients about commercial and residential windstorm and hurricane losses, flood damage, fire, smoke and water damage, collapse, hidden decay and mold losses, sinkholes, loss of stock, and business interruption.