How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

What can I do if the insurance company denies my claim for a sinkhole loss in Florida?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The State of Florida’s “Sinkhole Neutral Evaluation Program” may be able to help you. Here’s what it can do for you, according to the state's Chief Financial Officer:

Upon receipt of a claim for a sinkhole loss to a covered building, Florida law requires insurance companies to inspect the premises to determine if there has been structural damage that may be the result of sinkhole activity.

If the insurer discovers structural damage which is consistent with a sinkhole loss, or if the insurer is unable to identify a valid cause of such damage, the insurer must engage a professional engineer or geologist to conduct testing to determine the cause of loss within a reasonable professional probability. The professional engineer or geologist will provide a report of their findings to the insurer.

Following the receipt of the report or the denial of a claim for a sinkhole loss, the insurer is required to notify the policyholder of their right to participate in the neutral evaluation program.

If your insurance company denied a claim for loss or damage based on the results of the testing, or you cannot agree on the method of repair and remediation, you have the option to request a Neutral Evaluation. This alternative dispute resolution process, which involves the use of a state-certified Neutral Evaluator, is authorized under Section 627.7074, Florida Statutes. “Neutral evaluator” means a professional engineer or professional geologist who has completed a course of study in alternative dispute resolution designed or approved by the Department of Financial Services (department) for use in the neutral evaluation process and who is determined by the department to be fair and impartial.

If the insurer denied the claim without performing testing because it concluded there was no structural damage, you may demand testing to determine the cause of loss. Your demand for testing must be made to your insurer in writing within 60 days of the claim denial and you must pay 50% of the actual costs of the testing or $2,500, whichever is less. If a sinkhole loss is confirmed, your insurer will reimburse you. Either the insured or insurer can initiate the use of a Neutral Evaluator if a sinkhole report has been issued.

Neutral Evaluation is mandatory if requested by you or your insurer. The evaluator must be allowed reasonable access to the interior and exterior of the covered building to be evaluated. The insurer is required to pay the reasonable costs associated with the Neutral Evaluation program; however, it is not required to pay for a court reporter hired by the insured. The evaluation is non-binding and does not invalidate the appraisal clause that may be included in your insurance policy. Both parties retain their right to pursue legal action. However, filing a request for neutral evaluation tolls the applicable time requirements for filing suit for 60 days following the conclusion of the neutral evaluation process or the time prescribed in Florida Statute 95.11, whichever is later.

To file a request for mediation under this program:

  • Telephone: Consumer Helpline 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (1-877-693-5236)
  • Out of State Callers: (850) 413-5818
  • Email: or
  • Mail: Florida Department of Financial Services, Mediation Section, Bureau of Education, Advocacy, and Research, 200 East Gaines Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0322

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about SINKHOLES:

Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?

What is a chimney sinkhole? 

What are the warning signs of a sinkhole? 

What causes sinkholes? 

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole?  

What is my chance of buying a Florida home over a sinkhole? 

• How does a repaired sink hole under a house affect its market value?

• Where are sinkholes most likely to occur in Florida?  

Are there sinkholes in The Villages, Florida?

• Are sinkholes happening more often? 

What are the basic facts about sinkholes? 
• Does homeowners insurance in Florida include coverage for sinkhole damage? 

Should I be concerned about an old sinkhole on a property?

• Should I be concerned about my house if a sinkhole opens in my neighbor's yard? 

What are the Florida law regarding sinkhole insurance?

Can a home inspector determine if there are any sinkholes on a property?

Is it safe to buy a house with sinkhole foundation repair?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil? 

   Visit our SINKHOLES page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

"What Are The

Signs Of..."

Septic Tank Systems

Structure and Rooms

Plumbing Pipes

Termites, Wood Rot

& Pests



When It First

Became Code

"Should I Buy A..."

Park Model Homes


Shingle Roofs




Wind Mitigation

Roof and Attic

"Does A Home


Pool and Spa

"What Is The Difference Between..."




Concrete and

Concrete Block

Metal Roofs


Modular Homes

Rain Gutters

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants


Older and

Historic Houses

Crawl Spaces

Mobile-Manufactured Homes

Building Permits

Life Expectancy

Clay Soil





Exterior Walls

& Structures


Common Problems

HUD-Code for

Mobile Homes

Garages and Carports

Flat (Low Slope) Roofs

Electrical Panels

Sprinkler Systems

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

4-Point Inspections

Hurricane Resistance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Home Inspection

Heating and Air Conditioning

Building Codes

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Energy Efficiency

Washers and Dryers



Doors and Windows



Electrical Wiring

Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject

Plumbing Drains

and Traps


Smoke & CO Alarms

Aging in Place

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size


Electrical Switches





Water Intrusion

Electrical - Old

and Obsolete


Foundation Certifications

Tiny Houses

About McGarry and Madsen



Buying a home in North/Central Florida? Check our price for a  team inspection by two FL-licensed contractors and inspectors. Over 8,500 inspections completed in 20+ years. In a hurry? We will get it done for you.

Moisture Problems

Crawl Spaces