Are sinkholes covered by insurance? [Rates + Expert Advice]

Sinkholes are covered by comprehensive auto insurance. The average rate for comprehensive coverage is $11.57/mo, but you can lower your bill by comparison shopping.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: May 18, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Sinkholes can happen at any time
  • Basic auto insurance will not cover sinkholes
  • It’s important to have comprehensive coverage in place to protect against the unexpected

Sinkholes are scary when they happen. They involve erosion of the earth that create holes of varying sizes. They have been known to swallow up cars, homes, and much more.

But does car insurance cover sinkholes? If your car falls victim to a sinkhole, you need to know if you have sufficient auto insurance coverage in place.

Let’s dive into auto insurance covering repairs from sinkholes and what you need to know.

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What type of auto insurance covers sinkholes?

Does auto insurance cover sinkholes? It’s important to have the right type of insurance in place when you file a claim for sinkhole damage. A basic liability-only auto insurance policy is only going to protect against auto crashes.

Since a sinkhole does not qualify, you need to explore the “optional” coverage that is available to you.

The state is going to require you to have liability insurance for property damage and bodily injury. Then, it’s up to you to add on comprehensive coverage. If you’re financing your vehicle, most lenders require you to carry full coverage, which includes comprehensive.

What does fully comprehensive auto insurance cover? This type of coverage protects you against non-driving related incidents, including:

Comprehensive coverage should always be added to a policy if your vehicle is worth enough money to warrant it.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) notes that the states with the most damage from sinkholes are: Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. If you live in one of those states, it’s definitely something to consider when choosing your coverage levels.

How much is sinkhole coverage? The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) lists the average comprehensive auto insurance coverage, countrywide from 2011 to 2015.

Countrywide Comprehensive Auto Insurance Rates
YEARCOUNTRYWIDE COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE RATES
2015$148.04
2014$143.45
2013$137.77
2012$133.30
2011$131.80
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This video from Allstate touches a bit more on what comprehensive may cover.

A sinkhole has the possibility to open up at any time, anywhere. To avoid having to repair or replace your vehicle out of your own pocket, the best option is to have financial protection in place with fully comprehensive auto insurance coverage.

Sinkholes can cause a lot of damage, as you can see here. This video from News Channel 5 in Nashville shows how a sinkhole opened up in the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, and just how much damage it created.

Adding this coverage is often only a small portion of your premiums. Getting quotes from multiple companies will show you just what it will cost.

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Filing a Sinkhole Claim with Auto Insurance

The moment you experience the damage with a sinkhole, you need to notify your insurance company.

Depending on the size of the sinkhole and the other damage it has caused, you might be focused on various other things. However, insurance companies have a specific window where a claim needs to be filed.

You can search for your state below to see what the statute of limitations is for your state.

Statute of Limitations for Claims per State
StatePersonal Injury Statute of LimitationsProperty Damage Statute of Limitations
Alabama2 years2 years
Alaska2 years6 years
Arizona2 years2 years
Arkansas3 years3 years
California2 years3 years
Colorado3 years3 years
Connecticut2 years3 years
Delaware2 years2 years
Florida4 years4 years
Georgia2 years4 years
Hawaii2 years2 years
Idaho2 years3 years
Illinois2-3 years5 years
Indiana2 years2 years
Iowa2 years5 years
Kansas1 year2 years
Kentucky1 year2 years
Louisiana1 year1 year
Maine6 years6 years
Maryland3 years3 years
Massachusetts3 years3 years
Michigan3 years3 years
Minnesota2 years6 years
Mississippi3 years3 years
Missouri5 years5 years
Montana3 years2 years
Nebraska4 years4 years
Nevada2 years3 years
New Hampshire3 years3 years
New Jersey2 years6 years
New Mexico3 years4 years
New York3 years3 years
North Carolina3 years3 years
North Dakota6 years6 years
Ohio2 years2 years
Oklahoma2 years2 years
Oregon2 years6 years
Pennsylvania2 years2 years
Rhode Island3 years10 years
South Carolina3 years3 years
South Dakota3 years6 years
Tennessee1 year3 years
Texas2 years2 years
Utah4 years3 years
Vermont3 years3 years
Virginia2 years5 years
Washington3 years3 years
Washington D.C.3 years3 years
West Virginia2 years2 years
Wisconsin3 years3 years
Wyoming4 years4 years
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If your car is actually lost inside of the sinkhole, it might be necessary for an insurance claims officer to come down to the site in order to carry out some of the investigations.

You will also need to provide an official statement to attach to the claim records as to what happened.

Once the investigation is complete, the insurance company will pay to repair or replace the vehicle if it is approved. This might require visiting a specific body shop.

Though the risk of a catastrophic sinkhole is extremely low — III notes that research shows only a one in 100 chance in any given year— if your car is damaged by one, you’ll be glad you have comprehensive coverage.

You will also need to pay the auto insurance deductible that’s identified on your policy before the insurance company will pay their part.

Other Types of Insurance to Explore For a Sinkhole

When it comes to car-related incidents, it’s best to have the protection in place on your auto insurance policy. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other types of insurance available to you, however.

In the event of a sinkhole, there may be other forms of coverage that could potentially protect you as well. It will all depend upon what you have and any riders that may have been added to a policy

Gap insurance is often provided by dealerships or the manufacturer. Most auto insurance companies offer gap coverage.

This is a benefit as it would provide a full replacement of your vehicle in the event of it being totaled. If your car disappears into a sinkhole, this would qualify you for gap replacement.

This Allstate video discusses Gap coverage and why you may need it.

If your car is parked on your personal property, your home insurance might take care of the car repairs or replacement as well.

In many instances, this will require a rider known as earth movement, which is what a sinkhole is classified as. Otherwise, if you don’t have this particular coverage, a claim will often be denied.

Being a safe driver has nothing to do with your car being damaged by a sinkhole.

It’s important to have comprehensive coverage in place on your auto insurance policy.

Since you never know when such a thing could happen, you need to have financial protection in place with a quality policy. Otherwise, the cost of repairs could be substantial, making it difficult for you to afford to get your car back into a drivable state.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Sinkholes

We’ve added some more FAQs below if you have more questions.

Who is responsible for sinkholes?

Who pays for sinkhole damage? The responsibility of fixing a sinkhole depends on a variety of factors, like where it’s at and how bad it is.

Do insurance companies cover sinkholes? If your car is damaged because of a sinkhole, your comprehensive coverage will probably cover damages to the vehicle.

Sinkhole Home Insurance

Likewise, insuring a sinkhole home covers sinkhole damage with the appropriate coverage. Some states actually require additional sinkhole coverage for all homes.

How do you cover up a sinkhole? While you can repair minor sinkholes in your card by following a guide, larger ones should always be left to the professionals. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection notes that, depending on where you live, you probably don’t need a permit. However, you should take care with the type of fill-material, as some things can contaminate the drinking water.

Allstate sinkhole insurance may automatically write in sinkhole coverage to a homeowner’s policy but always check first. Some states, such as Florida and Tennessee, actually require sinkholes to be offered at an additional premium for all homeowner’s policies. But always check because even neighboring states don’t require sinkhole insurance, even Georgia right next door. 

Most won’t cover sinkholes automatically, but you can add this to Erie Insurance sinkhole coverage or additional sinkhole insurance with USAA.

Most policies have a sinkhole exclusion. Merlin Law Group explains that policies don’t cover “movement of the earth,” since homeowner’s policies are typically priced for how much it would take to rebuild the house without considering the land value.

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