SB 445 Requires homeowner insurance companies to offer sinkhole coverage
Sponsor: Wasson
LR Number: 1398S.01I Fiscal Note available
Committee: Small Business, Insurance and Industry
Last Action: 4/23/2013 - Hearing Conducted S Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee Journal Page:
Title: Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2013

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Current Bill Summary


SB 445 - On or after January 1, 2014, every insurer authorized to write homeowners' insurance within Missouri 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 policy to which the sinkhole coverage attaches. Sinkhole insurance coverage may be offered as part of the underlying insurance policy or as an endorsement or rider.

If a homeowner's insurance policy excludes coverage for sinkhole losses, the insurer must inform policyholders in bold type of not less than 14 points as follows:

"YOUR POLICY DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOSSES. YOU MAY PURCHASE ADDITIONAL COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOSSES FOR AN ADDITIONAL PREMIUM."

The act instructs insurers how to investigate sinkhole loss claims. Upon receipt of a claim for a sinkhole loss, an insurer must meet certain minimum standards in investigating a claim. The insurer must make an inspection of the insured's premises to determine if there has been physical damage to the structure that might be the result of sinkhole activity. If the insurer confirms that physical damage to the structure exists but the insurer is unable to identify a valid cause of such damage or discovers that such damage to the structure is consistent with sinkhole activity, or if the structure is located in close proximity to a structure in which sinkhole damage has been verified, then prior to denying a claim, the insurer shall obtain a written certification from a professional engineer, a professional geologist, or other qualified individual approved by the director stating that the cause of the claim is not sinkhole activity, and that the analysis conducted was of sufficient scope to eliminate sinkhole activity as the cause of damage within a reasonable professional probability. If the insurer obtains written certification that the cause of the claim was not sinkhole activity, and if the insured has submitted the sinkhole claim without good faith grounds for submitting the claim, the policyholder shall reimburse the insurer for 50% of the actual costs of the analysis or $2,500, whichever is less. An insured is required to pay reimbursement under this act only if the insurer, prior to ordering the analysis, informs the insured of the insured's potential liability for reimbursement and gives the insured the opportunity to withdraw the claim.

This act is similar to SB 616 (2012).

STEPHEN WITTE