Does auto insurance cover sinkholes?

Auto insurance covers sinkholes if you have comprehensive coverage. Sinkhole insurance for your car isn't expensive, with average comprehensive rates at $13/month. Without comprehensive coverage, your car insurance will not cover sinkhole damage.

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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A Concise Overview:

  • Comprehensive auto insurance will cover damages to your car caused by a sinkhole.
  • On average, comprehensive insurance costs $13/month.
  • Sinkholes occur when the surface layer of the ground collapses into an underground cavity.
  • Some areas of the U.S. are more prone to sinkholes than others.

You’re driving down the road in Texas when it suddenly feels like you hit something. You look around and see that your car is now sitting in the middle of a large hole in the pavement. Fortunately, you’re fine, but your car is pretty banged up.

You’ve got a myriad of questions running through your head. “What does sinkhole coverage cover?” “Can you get sinkhole insurance? If so, is sinkhole insurance expensive?” And most importantly, “Does car insurance cover sinkholes?”

Yes, but only if you have comprehensive insurance. Find out how much comprehensive and other types of auto insurance will cost you by reading our helpful guide below. Before learning more about auto insurance covering sinkholes, enter your ZIP code here to get quotes for cheap comprehensive insurance.

Comprehensive Coverage and Sinkholes

Knowing how to buy auto insurance is important because things like sinkholes are only covered by a specific type of insurance. How does auto insurance work? Let’s start with this video explanation from Allstate:

There are different types of auto insurance coverages. All U.S. states have minimum requirements for auto insurance, but these are mostly limited to the lowest levels of coverage that pay for injuries and damages related to vehicle collisions. While these state minimums will fulfill the letter of the law, basic coverage will not cover sinkhole damage or events unrelated to a collision.

Many vehicle owners choose to purchase comprehensive insurance, which, although optional, will pay for damages resulting from non-collision events such as vandalism, theft, extreme weather, and sinkholes. Buying comprehensive coverage is an individual decision and depends on factors such as the value of your vehicle, your chances of encountering non-collision events, and/or your own peace of mind.

In short, you’re required to carry certain levels of liability car insurance that include coverage for bodily injury and property damage, as well as collision insurance for vehicle damage. However, comprehensive coverage is the type of auto insurance that covers sinkholes. If you want to make sure you have sinkhole coverage, be sure to ask your insurance company about comprehensive auto insurance.

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Comprehensive Deductibles

You probably don’t want to pay a lot of money for your comprehensive insurance, yet you also want to have your deductible be as low as possible so that if you do have a claim, you don’t have to break the bank when you need to pay the deductible.

The table below shows the average annual rates drivers pay for comprehensive auto insurance coverage across the U.S.:

Average Annual U.S. Comprehensive Auto Insurance Rates by State
StatesAverage Annual Comprehensive
Auto Insurance Rates
Oregon$89.66
Maine$96.66
California$99.29
Hawaii$100.09
New Hampshire$103.03
Washington$104.11
Utah$106.57
Florida$110.12
Idaho$110.78
Ohio$112.74
Delaware$113.23
Indiana$115.02
Nevada$116.79
Illinois$117.98
Vermont$118.31
Rhode Island$122.17
North Carolina$123.00
New Jersey$123.18
Connecticut$126.02
Wisconsin$126.34
Massachusetts$128.92
Virginia$129.89
Kentucky$130.15
Pennsylvania$132.01
Tennessee$135.62
Countrywide$138.87
Alaska$141.08
Alabama$146.28
Maryland$146.77
Michigan$147.02
Georgia$153.61
New York$156.66
Colorado$158.34
South Carolina$165.38
Missouri$166.34
New Mexico$166.89
Iowa$171.58
Minnesota$173.04
Arkansas$183.36
Arizona$184.20
Texas$186.70
Mississippi$194.74
West Virginia$195.04
Montana$199.87
Oklahoma$201.56
Nebraska$206.24
Louisiana$208.59
Wyoming$222.86
North Dakota$227.64
South Dakota$228.59
District of Columbia$230.25
Kansas$230.65
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For example, sinkhole insurance in Kentucky costs just a little more than $10/month. As you lower the deductible amount, the cost of your insurance will increase.

How high should your comprehensive deductible be? It depends on how you choose to balance your insurance payments with how likely you think you are to have a claim. You will have to pay a deductible for sinkhole damage or any other claim for damage within the scope of your comprehensive policy.

Florida sinkhole insurance deductibles, for example, have an “amount applicable to sinkhole losses equal to 1 percent, 2 percent, 5 percent, or 10 percent of the policy dwelling limits, with appropriate premium discounts offered with each deductible amount,” according to the 2019 Florida statutes.

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Filing an Insurance Claim for Sinkhole Damage

If you’re wondering how to file a sinkhole damage claim, it’s not much different than any other insurance claim. Call your insurance company as soon as possible and explain the situation to them. They’ll let you know what you need when filing a claim.

Depending on the extent of the damages, they may want to send one of their adjusters to the site to check it out. But don’t wait too long, as most insurance companies have a limit on how long you have to file a claim.

Filing a comprehensive claim won’t increase your rates. Damage caused by external forces such as sinkholes has no bearing on your ability to drive safely.

What are sinkholes?

Sinkholes are places where an underground cavity and the surface of the land collapse, creating a hole that is sometimes large enough to swallow a car or parts of a building. These cavities are most often created by underground water that dissolves the surrounding rock, such as the limestone in Florida, creating a space that eventually can’t hold itself up anymore. When there is not enough water to support the surrounding rock and ground, the cavity collapses and a sinkhole is born.

Who is responsible for sinkholes?

Certain states in the U.S., such as Florida and Texas, are more likely to have naturally-occurring sinkholes due to their underlying geology. In these instances, we have no one to blame but Mother Nature.

However, man-made sinkholes can occur as well, such as when underground water has been removed or re-routed, or when a mine has been built or sealed improperly. Even urban areas aren’t free from sinkholes, since broken water mains or sewer pipes can wash away enough of the underlying soil to cause a cave-in at the surface.

So who pays for sinkholes and the damage they cause? You and your insurance company do unless you can prove that there was any negligence involved.

Now that you know more about how auto insurance may cover sinkholes, enter your ZIP code in the box below to get affordable comprehensive car insurance quotes.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Does auto insurance cover sinkholes?

We have included some answers to frequently asked questions about sinkhole coverage.

#1 – Who needs sinkhole coverage?

You don’t need special sinkhole coverage for your vehicle, but home insurance companies in Florida and Tennessee are required to include catastrophic sinkhole coverage as part of their homeowner coverage.

Most U.S. states have some areas that are at higher risk for sinkholes, so it’s best to know where these are before you decide to purchase sinkhole insurance in Georgia, for example. Whether to insure a sinkhole home in most states may require a bit of geological research.

#2 – Are there warning signs before a sinkhole appears?

Warning signs of potential sinkholes in a non-urban setting include:

  • Areas of dead or dying vegetation.
  • Exposure of previously-buried items such as fenceposts or foundations.
  • Slumping of trees.
  • Development gullies or areas of bare soil.
  • Interruptions to plumbing or electrical service.
  • Formations of new ponds or circular areas with cracks.

In urban settings, or on roads, newly-formed cracks in a sidewalk or roadway are an indication of a possible sinkhole in the works.

#3 – Do I need comprehensive insurance to cover sinkhole damage?

Yes, unless you wish to pay for the damages yourself.

#4 – Can I get Allstate sinkhole insurance?

Yes, the company has sinkhole insurance as part of its homeowners policy. This is rare, as most companies have a sinkhole exclusion.

#5 – Does Erie insurance have sinkhole coverage?

Sinkhole coverage is not covered under its homeowners policy. The same holds true for Liberty Mutual sinkhole insurance.

#6 – Should I carry any additional coverage if I live in an area with sinkholes?

If you already have comprehensive coverage for your vehicle, then you should be all set. If you’re a homeowner, however, you may want to consider getting a sinkhole insurance rider, since most homeowners’ insurance policies exclude sinkhole damage as well as that caused by other ground-moving events such as mudslides or earthquakes.

If you think you have a sinkhole or a potential sinkhole on your property, it’s best to find a reputable contractor in your area who can perform this type of work. Often they will provide a free sinkhole inspection as part of the work and cost assessment. Keep in mind that homeowners policies, even with a sinkhole rider, will only cover damages to buildings and non-vehicle properties, not the land itself.

 

References:

  1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/sinkholes
  2. https://floridadep.gov/fgs/sinkholes
  3. https://ufonline.ufl.edu/infographics/how-to-spot-a-sinkhole/

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