Denied Without Drilling
Did your insurance company deny your claim for damage without doing any drilling? Sometimes insurance companies will try to save money by not conducting the full range of tests required under Florida law.
Minimum Testing Standards
Chapter 627.707, Florida Statutes, mandates that insurance companies conduct testing to confirm or eliminate the presence of sinkhole activity at a property if the damage is consistent with sinkhole activity. What that means is, if your home shows signs of possible sinkhole impact, the insurance company must engage a licensed, professional geologist or professional engineer to conduct testing at your home and to issue a report.
Here's what Chapter 627.707, Florida Statutes, states:
627.707 Standards for investigation of sinkhole claims by insurers; nonrenewals. - Upon receipt of a claim for a sinkhole loss, an insurer must meet the following standards in investigating a claim:
- The insurer must make an inspection of the insured's premises to determine if there has been physical damage to the structure which may be the result of sinkhole activity.
- Following the insurer's initial inspection, the insurer shall engage a professional engineer or a professional geologist to conduct testing as provided in s. 627.7072 to determine the cause of the loss within a reasonable professional probability and issue a report as provided in s. 627.7073, if:
- The insurer is unable to identify a valid cause of the damage or discovers damage to the structure which is consistent with sinkhole loss; or
- The policyholder demands testing in accordance with this section or s. 627.7072.
The minimum standards are listed in Chapter 627.7072, Florida Statutes, and it requires the professional geologist or professional engineer to conduct sufficient testing, in their professional opinion, to determine the presence or absence of sinkhole activity.
It is virtually impossible to confirm or eliminate the presence of sinkhole activity occurring below ground without performing extensive below ground testing - such as Ground Penetrating Radar and most importantly, deep penetration drill borings.
These tests are expensive, however, and some insurance companies try to save a buck and get away with not testing, or with doing substandard testing. A common trend in north Florida and south Florida is for insurance companies to not perform deep drill bore testing - and instead just do a "visual inspection," upon which the insurance company then denies the claim. This is known as a "Drive-By Denial."
Drive By Denial
In a Drive-By Denial situation, the insurance company will send an adjuster or an engineer out one time to your home, but they will not send a large drill rig and drill deep bore holes. Most of the time when this happens, the engineer will write a three or four page report, and the insurance company will take that report and use it as an excuse to deny your claim. The engineer's report will likely list a number of possible causes of damage to your home - ranging from thermal expansion or contraction, to material shrinkage or use of substandard building materials, to normal settlement or differential settlement and earth movement. As none of these are covered by most insurance policies, the insurance company denies your claim and hopes you won't challenge their decision to deny.
Drive-By Denials Improper
Florida law mandates testing to confirm or eliminate sinkhole activity - which cannot be done with a Drive-By Denial. The possible causes of damage in a Drive-By Denial - thermal expansion or contraction, material shrinkage or use of substandard building materials, normal settlement or differential settlement and earth movement - can all be attributed to sinkhole activity! It all depends what's occurring below the ground! The only way to determine what is happening below ground is to perform proper tests.
Don't Be A Drive-By Denial Victim!
If your insurance company has denied your claim for damage due to a Drive-By Denial, if your insurance company has failed to conduct proper testing, they have violated your rights under Florida law. Speak to an experienced sinkhole attorney right away - call John Byrne at 813-413-6565 right now! You have many rights and many options, and it is important to understand what your options are before taking any actions. Call John Byrne today to learn about your rights!
This behavior - the refusal to conduct testing required by Florida Statute - is known as a Drive By Denial because the insurance company failed to perform deep drill borings.