Pennsylvanians Face Sinkhole Threat, But Many Lack Insurance Coverage

December 19, 2011

A U.S. senator is enlisting the help of Pennsylvania insurance commissioner to help protect the Keystone State’s homeowners from sinkhole damages.

In a letter to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) asked that all new homeowners in the state be made aware that sinkhole insurance is not part of a standard homeowner’s benefit in Pennsylvania. The lawmaker says homeowners should also be given specific information on how to purchase that insurance.

Sinkholes have hit Pennsylvanians hard in recent months. More recently in the Lehigh Valley, a sinkhole closed Route 33’s on-ramp.

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, the senator said.

“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.”

• Below is Senator Casey’s letter to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Consedine:

“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.”

Topics Homeowners Pennsylvania

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