Sinkholes in Florida: causes and costs

Number of confirmed sinkholes spike in FL

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FLORIDA - Researcher groups are analyzing the cost and causes of sinkholes in Florida following last week's tragedy outside Tampa.

Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation reports that sinkhole claims jumped from 2,360 in 2006 to 6,694 in 2010. In 2010, sinkhole damage cost a total of $1.4 billion to repair.

A statewide law passed in 2011 makes it more difficult to force insurance companies to pay for sinkhole testing. Without tests to confirm the presence of a sinkhole, fewer sinkholes have been claimed by Florida residents.

According to CoreLogic, a California based research firm, there are more than 15,000 sinkholes in Florida, more than any other state in the country.

Sinkholes can be triggered by weather. Heavy rains weaken underground limestone, causing the layer to collapse. They can also be man-made. Drilling can weaken limestone layers.

Last week's tragedy outside Tampa is shining a spotlight on the frequency of sinkholes in Florida. 37-year-old Jeff Bush is presumed dead after a sinkhole opened directly under his bed last year. His brother rushed to save him, but ultimately had to be saved himself.

Crews demolished the house on Sunday and Bush's body was not recovered.

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