My client’s home was built about 20 years ago in Central Florida. Less than a year ago, cracks began to show up in various places throughout the home. My client reported the damage to her homeowners insurer. The homeowners insurer hired an engineering firm to inspect the home and to determine the cause of the cracking. The engineering firm (a firm I have have seen helping insurers on many other claims) says that the damage was due to settlement, and thermal expansion, and was not due to sinkhole activity . Settlement and thermal expansion are not covered under the homeowners policy, but sinkhole damage is a covered cause of loss.
Based on the engineering report, the insurer denied the claim. My client requested a "neutral evaluator" to review the engineering firm’s findings. Unfortunately, the neutral evaluator agreed with the original engineers findings. This is not uncommon. I frequently see the neutral evaluators simply rubber stamp the original engineering report.
Upon reviewing the engineering firm’s testing and boring records, it appears that the damage is indeed due to sinkhole activity. As a result, I’ve filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the homeowners insurer.
Additionally, I’ve filed a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Bad Faith. If the insurance company doesn’t "cure" its violation within 60 days of the CRN, then the insurer may ultimately be held responsible for full damages – even if those damages are in excess of its policy limits.
As with most of my insurance cases, if I win, the insurance company must pay all of my hourly fees and costs, and if I lose, I’ll work for free.