(1) Every insurer authorized to transact property insurance in this state shall provide coverage for a catastrophic ground cover collapse and shall make available, for an appropriate additional premium, coverage for sinkhole losses on any structure, including contents of personal property contained therein, to the extent provided in the form to which the coverage attaches. A policy for residential property insurance may include a deductible 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.
(2) As used in ss. 627.706-627.7074, and as used in connection with any policy providing coverage for a catastrophic ground cover collapse or for sinkhole losses: (a) “Catastrophic ground cover collapse” means geological activity that results in all the following:
1. The abrupt collapse of the ground cover;
2. A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye;
3. Structural damage to the building, including the foundation; and
4. The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the governmental agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure.
Contents coverage applies if there is a loss resulting from a catastrophic ground cover collapse. Structural damage consisting merely of the settling or cracking of a foundation, structure, or building does not constitute a loss resulting from a catastrophic ground cover collapse.
(b) “Sinkhole” means a landform created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater. A sinkhole may form by collapse into subterranean voids created by dissolution of limestone or dolostone or by subsidence as these strata are dissolved.
(c) “Sinkhole loss” means structural damage to the building, including the foundation, caused by sinkhole activity. Contents coverage shall apply only if there is structural damage to the building caused by sinkhole activity.
(d) “Sinkhole activity” means settlement or systematic weakening of the earth supporting such property only when such settlement or systematic weakening results from movement or raveling of soils, sediments, or rock materials into subterranean voids created by the effect of water on a limestone or similar rock formation.
(e) “Professional engineer” means a person, as defined in s. 471.005, who has a bachelor’s degree or higher in engineering with a specialty in the geotechnical engineering field. A professional engineer must have geotechnical experience and expertise in the identification of sinkhole activity as well as other potential causes of damage to the structure. (f) “Professional geologist” means a person, as defined by s. 492.102, who has a bachelor’s degree or higher in geology or related earth science with expertise in the geology of Florida. A professional geologist must have geological experience and expertise in the identification of sinkhole activity as well as other potential geologic causes of damage to the structure.
(3) On or before June 1, 2007, every insurer authorized to transact property insurance in this state shall make a proper filing with the office for the purpose of extending the appropriate forms of property insurance to include coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse or for sinkhole losses. Coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse may not go into effect until the effective date provided for in the filing approved by the office.
(4) Insurers offering policies that exclude coverage for sinkhole losses shall inform policyholders in bold type of not less than 14 points as follows: “YOUR POLICY PROVIDES COVERAGE FOR A CATASTROPHIC GROUND COVER COLLAPSE THAT RESULTS IN THE PROPERTY BEING CONDEMNED AND UNINHABITABLE. OTHERWISE, YOUR POLICY DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOSSES. YOU MAY PURCHASE ADDITIONAL COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOSSES FOR AN ADDITIONAL PREMIUM.”
(5) An insurer offering sinkhole coverage to policyholders before or after the adoption of s. 30, chapter 2007-1, Laws of Florida, may nonrenew the policies of policyholders maintaining sinkhole coverage in Pasco County or Hernando County, at the option of the insurer, and provide an offer of coverage to such policyholders which includes catastrophic ground cover collapse and excludes sinkhole coverage. Insurers acting in accordance with this subsection are subject to the following requirements:
(a) Policyholders must be notified that a nonrenewal is for purposes of removing sinkhole coverage, and that the policyholder is still being offered a policy that provides coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse.
(b) Policyholders must be provided an actuarially reasonable premium credit or discount for the removal of sinkhole coverage and provision of only catastrophic ground cover collapse.
(c) Subject to the provisions of this subsection and the insurer’s approved underwriting or insurability guidelines, the insurer shall provide each policyholder with the opportunity to purchase an endorsement to his or her policy providing sinkhole coverage and may require an inspection of the property before issuance of a sinkhole coverage endorsement.
(d) Section 624.4305 does not apply to nonrenewal notices issued pursuant to this subsection.