Every geographic region in the US has its own natural disasters to be concerned with. But the increase in sinkhole activity in some areas of Florida is new. Scientists, engineers and real estate developers aren’t quite certain just why this is happening. Some geological experts believe the sinkhole activity is increasing because developers are pumping more water out of the ground for new projects or for agricultural use. Apparently acid in the water causes the limestone under many parts of Florida to dissipate and create the holes. And when a major storm occurs, the added water from the heavy rains on the topsoil can help create even greater concerns.
Floridians should speak to their insurance agent to see if their Florida homeowners insurance provides coverage for this issue, and if not, some should certainly consider purchasing coverage. Especially if they can determine that their property is in an area with a propensity for sinkhole activity.
“As builders are forced to go farther and farther out of cities in search of developable land, compromises such as building on less than ideal sites have to be made to deliver competitively priced properties,” said Peter Zalewski, an expert in Florida real estate development. “We think this factor is only going to contribute to the sinkhole problem in the future on the Florida peninsula. At the end of the day, technology can only serve as a stopgap against Mother Nature.”
Sinkhole activity is unpredictable
One can neither predict a sinkhole disaster nor really prepare for it. While some developers do have to do some drilling in order to comply with building codes, it is, unfortunately, impossible to know if a sinkhole will develop perhaps a year or two after the structure has been completed.
“At least with rising tides, property owners can opt to buy on higher ground some distance from the coast,” said Zalewski. “As Florida’s population grows and development continues, we expect sinkholes to become a bigger and bigger issue for homeowners with no clear solution in place.”
It’s interesting to note that one third of sinkhole activity recorded since 1960 occurred in the last 13 years; half of that has happened over the last three or four years. “In the last probably five or six years, yeah, there’s been a boom in more sinkholes being tested, confirmed,” said Frank Vitale of L.R.E. Ground Services, a sinkhole remediation company in business for the past 25 years. If sinkholes are a more common occurrence in a certain area, Florida homeowners insurance, or more specifically, sinkhole insurance, is a useful investment.