We had a 20 ft belly in a pipe that connected our bathroom to the main sewer line. When the floor was jackhammered open to replace this pipe, one side of the floor dropped by 1 1/2″ because there was no dirt supporting the floor up on that side. The ground must have settled/ decayed leaving a huge gap under the foundation which is how the belly in the pipe formed to begin with. Now we have to rebuild the floor by ripping out the collapsed section and pour new concrete. The other issue is the floor has asbestos tiles on it so we may need an asbestos abatement. Is there anyway to have this covered by homeowners insurance?

  1. 1844 POINTS
    David W. Clausen
    Chief Executive Officer, Coastal Homeowners Insurance Solutions, Rocky Point, NY 11778
    This is an interesting scenario and not all that easy to answer. Coverage will depend on what actually caused the drop in the floor. Earth movement is not always covered under a standard HO-3 form. If you have an "all risk" policy, as opposed to a "named peril" policy try and check the exclusions that exists under the policy. Generally speaking an "all risk" policy will cover everything that is not excluded. Hopefully earth movement is not excluded and could provide some coverage. Without having your policy in hand it is tough to determine if coverage will be provided. My suggestion is to put a claim in with the company and have an adjuster come take a look at the damage. Keep in mind that coverage is triggered from a "sudden, unforeseen occurrence" I usually give an example of something making a large "bang"-like a car accident. If, over time, the earth slowly was moved and caused the pipe to be damaged it may be more difficult to make a case for coverage. I hope this helps in making a decision.
    Answered on August 24, 2015
  2. 2777 POINTS
    Terry A. McCarthy, CLU, ChFC
    President, Insurance Associates Agency Inc., West Chester, OH
    The section of the policy that will likely answer the question the best will be found in the "Exclusions". In the ISO Homeowner Form 3 (HO3) policy, emulated by most insurers if not used directly, and the most common form of homeowner insurance issued in the USA, is the form I take this information from. It says: Collapse, Settling, subsidence, earth movement (unless endorsed otherwise), landslide, mudslide, mudflow, sinkhole, or any other impact of the earth sinking, rising or shifting that impact the foundation structure, walls, footings or floor are specifically excluded. An exception is made for the impact of losses caused by fire but only to the extent caused by the fire. In other words, if a fire ensues and the building eventually collapses, it is covered to the extent the damage was caused due to the damage of fire. There are certainly regional exceptions. In Ohio, due to past mining activity, subsidence has to be offered in various counties (but does not need to be purchased). Florida has a problem with sinkholes and may have state mandated coverage changes. California has issues with earthquake and almost certainly requires at least the offer of earthquake insurance. Check with your local insurance representative for the advice that fits your particular locality.
    Answered on September 3, 2015
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