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Last updated: May 24, 2018 • Real Estate and the Environment

The White House Sinkhole: a Home Insurance Reminder

A sinkhole has appeared in the north lawn of The White House this week due to the swampy nature of Washington, DC’s vicinities. While national coverage is collectively busy making puns with one of Donald Trump’s famous slogans (“Drain the swamp”), we feel regarding the white house sinkhole it is a great opportunity to talk about home insurance and sinkholes as a… whole.  See, we have puns of our own.

Sinkholes are actually very common in America: 35 to 40% of the land in our country is at risk of it. But sinkholes are only the most catastrophic outcome of erosion, which is the phenomenon of destruction, diminution of land or any earth movement caused by wind, water or other agents. Erosion can crack driveways, wall, and foundations, and, ultimately, cause sinkholes to open. And, mind you, it’s not only natural occurrences that provoke erosion and sinkholes. Man-made actions – like excessive drilling, mining, poor construction (like leaky plumbing) and even excessive traffic – can erode the floor, and what’s really dangerous about sinkholes is that they can happen both over time or all of a sudden and you’ll hardly be able to prevent it from opening up or forcing it to move to another spot. If you notice cracks around your windows and doors and they are increasingly becoming difficult to open and close, if you see depression on your garden and surroundings of your house, and even a little bit of unusual sediment in your water… those are signs your land is eroding and a sinkhole might occur.

So, not to be an alarmist, but sinkhole insurance is needed! Especially if you are in areas like Florida and California, where the recurrent occurrence of hurricanes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes is a reality and increases the chances of damage to your house. In fact, Florida has the most occurrences of sinkholes in America! And, considering the hurricane season is coming strong, if you live in the sunshine state, we recommend you thoroughly searching for Florida real estate agents to discuss the inclusion of sinkhole insurance coverage to your home insurance policy!

And you know why? Because, sadly, most mortgage companies in the country do not require homeowner’s to acquire sinkhole insurance and many of us think this potential occurrence is more fiction than real life… well, here’s the White House sinkhole to prove that it can happen to anyone!

We know you’re thinking “Why should I add sinkhole insurance coverage to my already extremely expensive home insurance policy?”, but the damages caused by erosion can be unbearable to regular joes like us. The tiniest earth shift can trouble the foundations of your property and create a sinkhole that, in severe cases, can swallow down an entire building and everything in it. So, imagine having to pay for the whole house again, plus new land foundation and all of the items inside? Sinkhole insurance will cover your dwelling damages and personal property (the appliances, artwork and whatever inside your house) damages as well, besides preventive measures like structural bracing; but just to be on the safe side, invest in enough coverage so, if needed, it pays for the complete rebuild of your home.

However, some sinkhole insurance policies do not cover damages caused by mine subsidence, so if you live in an area where mining is/was strong, be sure to read the tiny print.

Now, back to the White House sinkhole; don’t worry about it. Like we said, the District of Columbia was built over poorly consolidated sediments instead of a firm bedrock, so it’s normal to happen following heavy rain, which the east coast did experience a lot in the last month. A big example to this is what happened in January of 2017, when a much bigger sinkhole swallowed a whole school bus in Northwest DC. Besides, the National Park Service – responsible for the maintenance of the lawn – is said to be monitoring the situation and bringing experts to deal with the problem. If you are worried about the White House having sinkhole insurance, we’re pretty sure they are covered for anything possible: as far as our imagination goes, they even have extra-terrestrial attack insurance! So, don’t worry about it… just focus on your own sinkhole insurance; better be safe than sorry!

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