My client’s homeowner’s insurer retained the services of a geotechnical engineering firm and geologist to perform a sinkhole investigation at my client’s home.  The insurance company’s engineers and geologist wrote a report concluding that there was no sinkhole activity at the insured’s home.  However, while the engineering/geologist’s report concludes that there is no sinkhole activity, the data in the report proves that there is a sinkhole.  Plus, the report seems to omit some very important information that one would expect to be in a statutorily compliant sinkhole investigative report.

Unfortunately, insureds are not capable of reading and understanding the finer points of a sinkhole investigation report.  Once I received the report, we filed a lawsuit against the homeowners insurer for improperly denying the existence of a sinkhole.  Immediately upon receiving the lawsuit, the insurance company demanded “neutral evaluation.”

The neutral evaluation took place today at the insured’s home.  It seems the the neutral evaluator picked up on many of the issues which I had previously spotted in the insurance company’s report.  One thing the neutral evaluator mentioned is that he may require more testing before he issues a final report.  Hopefully, he will ultimately find that this home is indeed suffering damage from sinkhole activity.  However, even if the neutral evaluator finds against us this lawsuit will proceed.

There are two things I’d like you to take from this post:

1) If you suspect potential sinkhole activity is damaging your home or business, DO NOT drop the claim simply because the insurance company’s “experts” conclude there is no sinkhole activity.  EVERY SINKHOLE CASE I’VE EVER WON HAS AN INSURANCE COMPANY EXPERT REPORT DENYING SINKHOLE ACTIVITY.  I will look at any insurance denial for free!

2) DO NOT request neutral evaluation.  If you do, and the evaluator finds against you, the insurance company will want to explain to the jury how you picked neutral evaluation, and how you picked the neutral evaluator.  This can be quite damaging in any claim that we later file on your behalf.

  • Great article Mark. We think it’s important to assist our clients i the claims process to avoid situations like this. I believe it’s a case of insurance companies not having enough trained staff to handle special situations so the err on the side of no. Thanks for the post