Sinkhole Claims Process

Stages of the Sinkhole Claims Process

Filing a claim for sinkhole activity is the start of a long and intense process. It is nothing to be afraid of, but at the same time it is important to take the process seriously and understand what will happen during the sinkhole claim process. The process begins when a homeowner first notices damage and decides to file a claim with his or her property insurance company, and the claim process typically ends when the insurance company makes a determination to “confirm” sinkhole activity and accept coverage for the damage, or to “deny” your claim.

Initial Observation

Whatever the cause, the first step in the sinkhole claim process is for you, the homeowner, to inspect your property. If you’ve looked carefully at your property, both inside and out, and you’ve noticed damage to your home that wasn’t there before or has gotten bigger in recent months, this might indicate subsurface activity that might be sinkhole related.

Contacting Your Insurance Company

Making a claim involves a short phone call to the insurance company. Before the call, you should have a few things ready

• Find a copy of your insurance policy and declarations page.
• Make a drawing of your observed damage to show to the adjuster or engineers when they come.
• Take photographs of any damage that you have observed.
• Call the phone number listed on your insurance declaration page. When the customer service rep answers, introduce yourself and tell them you’d like to speak to someone about investigating movement on your property, possibly sinkhole activity.
• Once this is done, then there will be an insurance adjuster assigned to your claim

Adjuster Gets Assigned

A few days later you will likely get a telephone call from an adjuster representing your insurance company telling you that they will want to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect it, as well as talk to you.

The Adjuster’s Inspection

The adjuster will come out and take pictures walk around your property and try to create an accurate record of all the areas on your property that are damaged. If the adjuster has determined that the damage on your property may have been caused by sinkhole activity then they will notify you that they will be calling an engineering firm or testing company to come to your home to do testing.

After filing a sinkhole claim, and after the adjuster’s initial visit, the next step in the sinkhole claims process is for the insurance company to arrange to have your home tested for signs of sinkhole activity occurring below ground.

The Sinkhole Testing Begins!

The first phase of this part of the claim begins with someone from the engineering company coming out to do a visual inspection and create a photographic record of the damage on your property. Other observations that may be made at this time are: Digging a test pit to see the embedment of the footer, drawing a detailed damage map, hand pentrometer testing, hand auger testing and site survey.

Once this data is obtained, usually the next step in the process is to scan the soil with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). This allows the engineering company to “see” the soils below and to find areas that show down warping which might indicate possible raveling zones. These zones are likely places to drill into to look for sinkhole activity should that phase of testing be warranted.

Standard Penetration Tests (or borings) on the property allow the engineering company to drill all the way down to limestone and take samples of the soils every few feet to help identify and quantify deeper soil layers. These tests help the engineer determine what problems may be occurring beneath your property.

So what’s the result of all this?

After a few weeks from when the engineers completed drilling and have left, you should notification of the completion of the sinkhole investigation and you should receive a copy of that report in the mail or by electronic delivery. The report itself is anywhere from 50 to 90 pages thick so try to find the “executive summary” page located on or near the front. If this is not available then try to find the conclusion and recommendations section. From the results of engineer’s sinkhole investigation, the insurance company should be notifing you weather there is coverage for your claim or not.

If there is no sinkhole activity, be happy! Your claim is now over.

If they did find sinkhole activity, and it confirms sinkhole activity then the next step in the process is to find the sinkhole repair company that you want to work with. Having completed over a thousand projects, Champion Foundation repair welcomes the opportunity to work with you on your sinkhole repair project. Call Champion today and let’s get you together with your project manager and you’ll be on your way to completing the subsurface portion of your project.