Any sinkhole on your property is a serious matter. They never get better. They only get worse. It is strongly recommended you take the following action immediately.
1.) Contact your insurance company and have an adjuster come out to look at your property promptly to determine if further investigation is warranted.
2.) If an actual cavity opens up, rope off the area and contact immediately your insurance company and if necessary your local emergency management organization. The Florida Geological Survey tracks and records sinkhole events. To report this activity then call or email Steve Spencer (email@example.com) at the Florida Geological Survey at 1-850-488-4191. If you need a repair company to come out and look, call Champion Foundation Repair Systems at 1-866-780-2222 and they will send someone out to inspect the property if possible
3.) Once your insurance company has been notified and adjuster has substantiated the possibility that there might be sinkhole activity, your insurance company will arrange to have a professional engineering firm out to your property to begin the testing. While it might take some time to get the testing started, it usually takes only about three days or less for the actual drilling part of the evaluation.
4.) The testing process can consist of many different tests but the core process is Test Boring. This method involves the engineering firm bringing either a truck mounted or trailer mounted drill rig to your property and drilling into your yard to determine the nature of your soil. Soil samples are taken every 5 ft, independently packaged and sent to the lab for analysis. From this data the engineers get a good idea of your soil conditions. This is important information for them and you.
5.) Once testing has been completed within 3-5 weeks your adjuster should notify you of the results of the engineers' report and have a copy forwarded to you.
6.) If the report indicates that your property does have sinkhole activity, the insurance will then go to work to come up with a solution and determine how to handle your claim. No two insurance companies will handle a claim or resolve the claim the same way. Needless to say, some are better than others.
7.) If the report shows that there is no sinkhole activity but some other type of settlement issue they are not liable for such as clay issues, organic material, muck or general subsidence then you as the home owner are stuck with the problem because as Florida insurance stands the only foundation issue that is covered in your homeowner's policy is for sinkhole damage.
8.) If you do not agree with the engineer's findings you have a few options that are available to you.
I) Hire an attorney. Negotiating this type of claim on your own is difficult at best outright impossible at worst.
II) Hire another engineering firm to come out and retest your property. This usually costs around $4,000-8,000 so you should have a good basis for doing this such as multiple sinkholes within a reasonable distance from your home. PLEASE NOTE!! You must exercise caution with this option as you will be liable for the cost of the testing whether sinkhole activity is confirmed or not. This means that even if you find out that there is sinkhole activity, you will have to pay for the testing until your insurance company either reimburses you or pays the engineers themselves. You can resolve the situation on your own.
III) Beg ,plead and threaten your insurance adjustor. ( Just kidding this rarely works and could land you in jail especially if you try to pull a Tony Soprano. Go back and try I or II )
Remember that in Florida sinkholes can be extremely dangerous so if you are in doubt,
REPORT IT. This way a professional can determine what exactly is going on down below. Do not let this process proceed unchecked. The longer you do nothing to remedy the situation the more disastrous it could be over time. Sinkholes don't correct themselves they just keep sinking.