My house is sinking. Will my homeowners insurance pay for damages?

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020

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Me and my wife bought a vehicle in 2010. We got a loan from our bank and paid the owner. She moved and we lost contact before we could get the title. We paid off our loan and maintained insurance and registration on the vehicle. My wife recently totaled the vehicle in an accident that was the other drivers fault. That insurance company came and took the car and gave us a value that they would be paying us. A week later they called and said they couldn’t pay us. We can’t afford to take this loss and I have no idea what I can do.”

Asked February 3, 2016

1 Answer

Home insurance is able to protect you against many different perils, depending on the type of homeowner's policy you have. Some policies even cover everything but perils that are specifically excluded. The problem is, the foundation of your home is considered to be an extension of the ground it is built on, and there is not a home insurance policy that will cover changes in the earth itself.

Specifically, all home insurance policies exclude what is termed as ""movements of the earth."" In common language, this means that you cannot insure your home against earthquakes, settling, erosion, or any other form of changes in the ground the home sits on. The reason for this is that such changes under your home are equated with an act of God, and there is no earthly protection against such changes.

In some cases, the sinking of your home may be due to causes that could have been prevented by homeowner maintenance. For example, erosion near and under the foundation can be held in check by adding soil or other fill around the foundation. For the purposes of insurance, failure to add fill for your home foundation is an act of negligence on your part, putting the responsibility for any eventual damages on you.

Sinkholes have become a major consideration over the past 20 years, and can be attributed to many factors that are caused by mankind. For example, sinkholes in Florida are largely attributed to depletion of the aquifers, where huge pockets of empty space develop underground and eventually collapse. Because there is no way to anticipate such a collapse, insurance companies would be accepting an inordinate amount of risk to provide such protection.

Oil drilling techniques such as fracking are also being blamed for sinkholes. In this case, determining the cause of the sinking home could indicate a liable party. If your home is sinking because of fracking techniques or other manmade disruptions, your home may be protected under the liability coverage of the responsible company. In this event, you will have to contact the responsible company, and will usually get better results by approaching them through the legal arena.

Answered February 5, 2016 by Anonymous

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