If you’ve picked up a Florida newspaper this week you’ve probably been slapped in the face with a huge Floridian fear: sinkholes. Sinkholes seem like one of those things that you see in “end of the world” movies where the earth is just swallowing itself and everyone but the main character is stupidly standing still and screaming as they too, fall into the ground. Most of us that have experienced a real sinkhole know that it’s not quite that dramatic, but it can be traumatizing nonetheless, and if you own property in Florida your insurance premiums are probably about to sky-rocket.
Here’s the problem: with so many false reports alongside the actual reports of sinkhole damage to properties, insurance companies have to dole out loads of cash not only to fix the situation, but even just to pay people to go out and LOOK for damage in the first place. Most sinkholes show signs in settling before there’s ever a huge collapse, but a lot of people are freaking out at the smallest crack in their driveway. It takes your insurance company around a thousand dollars to send someone to survey your property. Then, if there actually is sinkhole damage, the estimates to fix it can range anywhere from a couple of hundred to “make-you-sick-to-your-stomach” kind of cash. So where Florida hurricanes took up the number one chunk of your protection, sinkholes are swallowing that up too.
The Florida 10% rate hike cap is gone. In the Tampa area alone, premiums are probably about to jump by 2000% – no exaggeration. So if you were paying around $150 for your premium you’ll now be looking at closer to $4000. Ouch. So just like any other insurance plan you have, make sure you talk to your agent so that you’re getting the coverage you need without paying for coverage you don’t. Ever penny is about to count and with a tight economy your agent may become your biggest ally. Educate yourself. Don’t be scared to ask questions, don’t be the person standing still and screaming while the hero is running to safer ground and better insurance.