Buying real estate can be a bigger undertaking than people realize. One of the biggest complications of owning a home is discovering a sinkhole and it’s a very serious matter. Sinkholes never “get better” or go away, but they can definitely get worse, and quickly.

If you think your home may be sitting on a sinkhole, contact your insurance company immediately. They will send out an adjuster, who will take a look at your property and decide whether or not the potential sinkhole needs to be investigated further.

Once your insurance adjuster has determined that there is sinkhole activity, your insurance company will send out a professional engineer to begin testing on the soil and surrounding area. The testing should only take a few days and may involve drilling the area in question. The engineer may use a number of tests, but one of the main processes is called “Test Boring” and involves getting a truck with a mounted drill into your yard. This drill helps the engineer take a soil sample every 5 feet and the soils are sent to a lab to be analyzed. The nature of your soil is one of the most important factors in determining whether you have a potential sinkhole or not.

If an actual cavity opens up, make sure to rope off the area and even put warning signs around the area to alert any neighbors to avoid the area. Contact your insurance company again and let them know about the damage. If possible, get an e-mail address, so all of your correspondence is in writing. Take pictures of the sinkhole and send them to your agent. You may even want to call a local emergency management. You can even call Colorado Geological Survey, since they track and record sinkholes.

The next step is waiting, since it can take between 3 and 5 weeks for your adjuster to notify you with the engineer’s report and findings. If the report does indicate a potential sinkhole your insurance company will need to come up with a solution. Some insurance companies are better than others, and you may need to consult an attorney if you feel your insurer is being unfair or unreasonable.

Your report may show no sinkhole activity, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in the clear. There could be other settlement issues that your insurance company is not liable for, such as organic material, clay issues, or muck. Some insurers may have included these settlement issues in their plan, but for the most part insurance policies will only cover sinkhole damage. For more information on sinkholes or to browse our selection of Cherry Creek homes for sale, please visit us at PorchLight.

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