Sinkhole Insurance Not Standard in Homeowners Insurance; Most Residents Never Realize It
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has called on Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine to help homeowners protect themselves from dangerous sinkholes by making them aware of insurance coverage that could cover the cost of damage. In a letter to Commissioner Consedine, Senator Casey asked that all new homeowners be made aware that sinkhole insurance is not part of a standard homeowner’s benefit in Pennsylvania and that they be given information on how to purchase that insurance.
Even though concentrations of limestone bedrock across South-Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania make residents susceptible to sinkholes, insurance coverage for sinkholes is not part of a standard homeowner’s insurance benefit package. Residents across the state are often unaware that they lack sinkhole insurance until damage has already occurred.
“Across Pennsylvania, families have been devastated by sinkholes that have destroyed homes and livelihoods. Unfortunately, many Pennsylvanians don’t find out they lack insurance coverage until it’s too late,” Senator Casey said. “The Pennsylvania Insurance Department should make sure new homeowners are aware that their standard coverage doesn’t include sinkhole insurance and that there’s a way to get that insurance if they would like to.”
Sinkholes have hit Pennsylvanians hard in recent months. After Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, one Lehigh Valley family suffered major damage to their home. More recently in the Lehigh Valley, a sinkhole closed Route 33’s on-ramp.
In his letter, Senator Casey asked the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to protect homeowners from sinkholes by making sure they know it’s not part of their standard homeowner’s insurance coverage and that it is readily available if they choose to purchase it.
Senator Casey’s letter to Insurance Commissioner Consedine is below:
Dear Mr. Consedine:
I write regarding recent reports of significant damage to homes in parts of Pennsylvania due to the formation of sinkholes. It appears that this problem has only been worsened as a result of the recent flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Some families have seen their homes completely destroyed from sinkhole damage.
Unfortunately, many families only discover that their homes are not insured against damage caused by sinkholes after that damage occurs. It is my understanding that sinkhole coverage is not a part of standard homeowners insurance policies offered in Pennsylvania. I have also been told that many homeowners are not offered this coverage, and that current state law does not require that homeowners be informed about this coverage gap.
For most families, a home is the single largest investment they will ever make. It is critical that homeowners fully understand the options available to them to protect that investment. I encourage the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to ensure that every person who buys a home in the Commonwealth is made aware that sinkhole coverage is not a standard part of homeowners insurance, but that additional coverage to protect against damage caused by sinkholes is available.
Thank you for your attention to this request.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator