What You Need to Know About Sinkholes

Sinkholes are not part of a standard home or business insurance policy. While the incidents of sinkholes, particularly in Florida, are on the rise, many homeowners do not have the right kind of insurance coverage to mitigate the damage, losses, and costs related to these sinkholes.

What Causes Sinkholes?

In a recent Insurance Journal article written by Dr. Thomas Jeffery, Florida’s sinkhole risk is the result of its location on top of a porous, permeable bed of limestone that dissolves over time leaving behind large voids beneath the ground. Sinkholes occur when the surface soil (and other materials) collapse into these voids. Sometimes they occur when water drainage patterns change naturally as well.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), though, teaches us that sinkholes can be man-made, related to land-use practices – especially those involving groundwater pumping and resulting from construction and development. They can also happen as a result of water main breaks.

Types of Sinkholes

There are essentially three main types of sinkholes. Each one is caused by different contributing factors and may have different results.

Dissolution Sinkholes

Water from rainfall and surface water dissolve and carry away rock from the surface to gradually create a depression. Over time, the depression may become a common ponding surface for water. This means the area becomes a focal point for drainage risking the buildup of debris in which then holds more water and dissolves more rock, creating an even larger hole.

Cover-Subsidence Sinkholes

These develop gradually over time and are rare than other types – partly because they go undetected for so long.

Induced Sinkholes

These are sinkholes that are the result of other actions (mostly man-made). They can be the result of runoff water storage (retention ponds), water main’s bursting, or changes in water fluid pressure below the ground.

Location, Location, Location

It’s important to note that while they are most infamous for occurring in the state of Florida, they can actually happen anywhere. One particularly newsworthy sinkhole event took place in the state of Kentucky at the National Corvette Museum destroying eight of the cars inside the museum. NBC reports on other noteworthy sinkholes around the world, in location like:

  • Sanica, Bosnia
  • Daichengqiao, Hunan
  • Natal, Brazil
  • Guatemala City
  • Wuzhou City
  • Montreal


The Washington Post claims that the Dead Sea shore is home to more than 3,000 sinkholes, up from just over 1,000 of them along the shoreline a mere ten years ago.

Closer to home and outside the state of Florida, sinkholes have occurred in:

Los Angeles, CA

Chevy Chase, Maryland

Toledo, OH

Chambersburg, PA

Duluth, MN

As you can see, sinkholes can happen anywhere. That’s why sinkhole insurance coverage is so important for business owners today.

Prevention is the best cure for sinkholes, especially in light of the many man-made sinkholes, but it’s not always possible.  Personal and business insurance becomes your second line of defense. Is your policy up to the challenge?