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Posted on March 25th, 2010 at 4:25 PM by admin

York, Pa. – A sinkhole forced the demolition of a home in York last week. We also reported about some large sinkholes causing damage in both Dauphin and Adams counties. The problem is underground limestone, a type of rock that runs under much of the midstate. But there is a way to protect your home.

Did you know there was sinkhole insurance? It’s not in your typical homeowner’s policy, but it is actually pretty cheap to protect your home from sinkhole damage, or at least the cost of it all.

Because of central Pennsylvania’s geology, sink holes may be more common than you think.

Dr. Bill Kreiger, known by his York College students as “Doc Rock,” knows all about Pennsylvania’s limestone. He said, “I mean, it’s so valuable to us. You brush your teeth with it, you eat it, it’s in candy, you know we make ceiling tile, floor tile, paper.”

But how did it all get here? “Up to 500 million years ago in this area where most us are and where we’re talking about, in the midstate, that’s when the limestone formed,” said Kreiger, “In an ocean.”

Today, that limestone can be found below much of the midstate, and causes big problems, like on West Philadelphia Street in York, when all that rain we had washed it away. Dr. Kreiger says there are few fixes. “A lot of times we choke it with concrete. Hey, concrete’s made out of limestone! And it’s going to weather away, so we’re going to weather this material away. The same thing that was there.”

But you can protect your home, at least financially, with sinkhole insurance. Steve Horning with State Farm said, “Generally speaking, it would cover to clear out the damage, the debris from the building, and then to rebuild the building.”

Fire officials believe the homeowners on West Philadelphia Street had no insurance, demolition alone cost $30,000. Until something like that happens, Horning says most people don’t think about sink hole insurance. It costs about $50 bucks a year or less.

“Yeah, I’ve added the coverage myself after seeing the story on Philadelphia Street,” said Horning.

It’s something to think about for a “deep down” problem. “It’s still going to be a problem in years to come down the road. It might last for a couple of years, or maybe even 50 years, okay? But eventually, that will reoccur,” said Dr. Kreiger.

Steve Horning with State Farm says there are some other things that are not covered in most basic home owner policies. A big one is flood insurance, also earthquake insurance, and insurance for people who live above old mines. The old structures can cause geological shifts, and possibly damage to your home.

Most of those are things we don’t think about. They are rare, but could happen, and with a basic policy you could be out of luck. So your best bet is to sit down with your insurance agent, find out exactly what is covered in your policy.

Read more about this Sinkhole Damage.

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