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Will your insurance cover you in case of a sinkhole?

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 10 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 12 2013 05:45:12 AM CDT

Officials say a massive sinkhole in Bethlehem Township is at least 100 feet wide and up to 40 feet deep.

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

Imagine if the ground opened up and devoured part of your property. It's obviously unexpected, but you can be protected.

Maryann Paluch at DE Cressman Insurance Agency in Allentown says she always offers sinkhole coverage to customers.

"It's not included in a typical homeowner's policy," she clarified. "It's a rider like if you want to insure jewelry or sewer and drain backup."

But she estimates only about 30% decide to add it to their policy.

"It's something that people don't think about until it happens in their neighborhood or in the surrounding area," said Paluch. "Everybody should have it."

Sinkholes are fairly common in the Lehigh Valley. Experts say it's because of the foundation of limestone beneath many properties. Weak acidic water in the ground dissolves the limestone and caverns form.

"Just call your agent and ask them to add it," explained Paluch. "It usually runs about maybe between $70 and $120 a year."

But if you make that phone call after a sinkhole develops, you may be too late.

At DE Cressman there's a waiting period before you can get coverage, although, each insurance company is different.

Paluch recommends adding sinkhole coverage to your policy, and make sure you do your homework.

"Know what kind of coverage there is for sinkhole insurance even if you have the coverage," she said.