Sinkholes, insurance woes plaguing Pasco homeowners

Article and Video Courtesy of 

Bay News 9


Imagine waking up every day knowing the home you live in is teetering above a sinkhole.

Or worse yet, there's no insurance to protect yourself if you're stuck with damages.

This scenario is a reality for some homeowners in Pasco County, who are dealing with a legal battle pitting them against their homeowners association and a powerful insurance company.

There are 165 townhomes at Covina Key, located in the Meadow Point area of Wesley Chapel in southern Pasco County. And the owners of 20 of those townhomes are dealing with a nightmare situation.

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  Published June 27, 2007  



Sinkhole: Some of the townhomes at Covina Key in Meadow Point are facing sinkhole issues.


Mike Phillips bought a Covina Key townhome as an investment - it may not leave him $100,000 in debt.

That's because according to an engineering report, an large, unrepairable sinkhole lies 180 feet underground directly below the townhome.

And Phillips and his neighbors can't count on their insurance company Nationwide. The insurance giant cancelled the policies and the buildings affected by the sinkhole.

"I have a financed house that has no insurance on it," Phillips said. "And no notification, well notification of cancel of insurance when it was done, but there is no one that will insure it after that."

The Covina Key homeowners association was responsible for insurance on the now irreparable buildings.

That insurance provided coverage for a little more than a million dollars ($1,027,214). The problem is there are 20 units - totaling around $2.8 million of market value.

The homeowners claim the association underinsured the buildings and now if there is a fire or other damage none of it will be covered.

Homeowners are now scrambling to find alternate insurance providers. The homeowners themselves have no money in hand to deal with potential problems. And now a Pasco judge may be the deciding factor on whether these buildings will be taken care of or if the homeowners will have to hire their own attorneys to fight for insurance money.

The homeowners association attorney Robert Walton III said his clients are hoping legal action will work in their favor.

"The association has requested that the circuit court of Pasco County review the association's governing documents as to what to do,'' Walton said in a statement. "as the association's main governing document is silent as to what is the proper course to be taken.''