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Florida public adjuster helps homeowners learn when to make a sinkhole claim

With sinkhole insurance claims on the rise, the licensed and certified public adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates outline what property owners need to look at to ensure a proper claim without getting unnecessary charges from their insurance provider.
August 24, 2010 / TAMPA, Fla. / 

Whether caused by an increase in the actual number of sinkholes or just by a perceived increase in sinkhole media reporting, several insurance providers say they have noticed an increase in the number of sinkhole claims from property owners throughout Florida and the Gulf Coast. But what has become popular isn’t necessarily the right thing to do, say the Florida public adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates, and filing a baseless claim can actually end up costing the a property owner thousands of dollars. 

The licensed and certified public adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates, with offices throughout Florida and in nine other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, say that while there certainly have been headline-grabbing sinkholes throughout the Gulf Coast this year, the increase in sinkhole claims could be a case of ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ in that property owners often say they are filing a sinkhole claim simply because their neighbor did it first.

"What we’re trying to do is educate the homeowners so they know what to look for and don’t end up phoning in a claim just because someone in their neighborhood did," says Keith Grams, sinkhole claim expert for Tutwiler and Associates. "At the same time, these people need to know if they do see some of the warning signs of possible sinkhole damage, they have a legitimate reason to call in to their insurance company to see about making a claim."

Grams and the rest of the sinkhole claim experts at Tutwiler and Associates say these warning signs include things that may look like normal “wear and tear,” but could be masking a serious sinkhole threat to the structural integrity of their property. This includes, but is not limited to the following indicators:

• Cracks in exterior walls; sometimes even resembling “stair steps.”
• Driveway cracking or dipping.
• Cracks in the pool deck or patio slab.
• Floor tile and bathroom wall tile cracking.
• Drywall or plaster cracks in walls or ceilings.
• Windows that have become difficult to open.

If a property owner isn’t sure about possible warning signs they see around their property or if they need clarification as to what to look for, Tutwiler and Associates says it’s important to have a qualified professional evaluate their situation to avoid any potential charges from the insurance provider for filing a baseless claim.

"The insurance companies have to pay the cost of the investigation for a sinkhole claim,” says Grams, a licensed and certified public adjuster with Tutwiler and Associates. "So if the insurance provider feels there is no legitimate basis for a claim, they can charge the property owner up to half of the cost to do the investigation, not to exceed $2,500.”

The Florida public adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates regularly work with property owners throughout the Gulf and Atlantic coasts to help them navigate the often tricky area of sinkhole property claims. They say it’s important for property owners to understand the ins and outs of their property insurance policy so they know what their rights and responsibilities are in the event they believe their property is being threatened by a sinkhole.

For more information, please visit

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.