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Homeowner to Citizens: I hate to say I told you so, but … p2

Wed Nov 20th, 2013 on     Homeowners Insurance,    

Floridians know their way around sinkholes, especially near Tampa Bay. It is likely, then, that the man who bought a house in the area was well-versed in the risks associated with living so close to Sinkhole Alley. He knew enough, at least, to call his insurance company for advice when he noticed cracks in his home’s foundation.

His insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, had engineers take a look. They concluded that the cracks were evidence of “sinkhole activity” and advised the homeowner to pump grout into the ground — for as much as $110,000 — to reduce the risk. This was the home the man hoped to grow old in, though, and he believed more than the grout was needed. So he filed a lawsuit against Citizens.

The dispute continued for two years, until a day in February when the homeowner saw the news that a sinkhole had swallowed part of a house in nearby Hillsborough County. A man sleeping in the home at the time of the collapse was killed; authorities never recovered his body. (We wrote about the incident in our March 9 post.)

The homeowner abandoned his efforts to convince Citizens that more should be done and agreed to the grout. Pumping began on Nov. 12. On Nov. 14, a sinkhole opened up beneath the house, a sinkhole that local authorities say could be the largest on record in this Florida town.

Officials condemned the homeowner’s house and his neighbor’s. Five other homes were evacuated until the sinkhole had stabilized. No one was injured, but all the homeowner and his family have left is whatever they grabbed on the way out and a boat that rescue workers were able to salvage. The boat was saved because of the danger leaking gasoline could pose to the area’s water supply.

All the homeowner could say was this all could have been avoided if Citizens had listened to him. He knew the risk better than a company that deals with risk all day, every day.

Source: Daily Mail, “Homeowner fought with insurance company for TWO YEARS trying to get sinkhole repairs,” Associated Press and Ashley Collman, Nov. 15, 2013

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