How to know if your home is vulnerable to sinkholes

- We all know it's important to protect our homes with homeowner’s insurance and nearly every home insurance policy in the state of Florida covers catastrophic disaster, but those policies may not cover sinkholes.

After a massive sinkhole swallowed two homes in Land O’ Lakes Friday, we’re learning the homeowners knew this was a possibility.

Records show a 50-foot sinkhole was repaired back in 2014. And just next door, sinkhole remediation had been done on that property in 2007, so this wasn't a total surprise.

But it's still a total nightmare.

Many homeowners are wondering how they can protect themselves and their homes from the same fate. Experts say it's all about doing your research.

Nearly every home insurance policy in the state of Florida covers catastrophic disasters, but they may not cover a disaster like this one.

Florida has more sinkhole activity than any other state in the country and because of that many insurers offer additional coverage for sinkholes.

LINK: Deputy helps family as home threatened by sinkhole

“It's like flood insurance; if you know you live on or near a sinkhole, then you should get sinkhole insurance. If you know you live in a flood zone, then you should get flood insurance,” explained Pasco Emergency Management representative Kevin Guthrie.

LINK: Look up sinkhole remediation permits in Pasco County

Because the two homes affected by this sinkhole had remediation in the past, they likely would not have been eligible for sinkhole insurance, but their neighbors would have been.

And neighbors could know their potential risk by looking on the county property appraiser's website.

The Pasco County Property Appraiser's website has a mapping tool that makes it quick and easy to look up sink hole activity by address.

LINK: Pasco County Property Appraiser sinkhole mapping tool

We typed in the address where a 6-foot depression turned into a 225-foot sinkhole in a matter of hours Friday. The map shows both homes that sank into the 50-foot deep hole had past sinkhole activity. And just down the street two more homes also have a history with sink holes.

 “As you do your homework about your own home and your insurance policy, click around and see if any of those are, and if you see that you have a home maybe a block or two blocks away, consider [asking your insurer],” Guthrie said. 

Even though a previous owner must notify a potential home buyer of any sinkhole claims made on the property, emergency officials say it's important to know the history of other homes in the neighborhood, as well.

Like flood insurance, sinkhole coverage can be pricey, but so are repair costs. The average price tag for sink hole remediation is between $40,000 and $80,000.

County records show that a 50-foot-deep sinkhole on the 21835 Ocean Pines Drive property was remediated in 2014 at a cost of over $30,000. A company named Helicon installed 33 underpins, driving steel piers under the foundation of the home to stabilize it. Helicon says the cost to fully repair it, at that time, would have been around $100,000.

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