Insurance not likely to cover homeowners affected by Fraser sinkhole

- On Christmas Eve, a sinkhole started opening in Fraser, forcing almost two dozen families out of their homes. Now, we're learning that their insurance likely won't cover the damage.

The sinkhole opened up near 15 Mile and Hayes on Christmas Eve. Since then, 22 families living along Eberlein Street have been displaced. The city has declared a state of emergency and asked for Macomb County to help make needed repairs.

But for homeowners, they've had to make a call to their homowners insurance to see what's covered. That's where Mark Swieczkowski of Legacy Partners insurance comes in. He says ever since the 250 foot-long sinkhole opened up, his phone won't stop ringing.

"They say Mark what can we do? How do we protect ourselves from this?" Swieczkowski said.

Officials say the sinkhole stems from a partially collapsed sewer line about 45 feet underground.

Most families will be returning to their homes within the week but at least three families will not be going home as the sinkhole slowly swallows at least one home.

"Unfortunately in this situation you don't see it coming," Swieczkowski said. "People are very interested to see  what I can do to protect myself and all we can do is offer what we have. It's not a very common thing in Michigan, obviously."

Although the ground is shifting and opening up, Swieczkowski says even if these neighbors already had earth movement or the rarely bought sinkhole collapse coverage, this wouldn't be covered.

"They probably would not cover this instance because it isn't a natural sinkhole collapse," he said. "The running water under the ground dissolving (the natural rock), that's what they'll cover."

Inside a very packed emergency meeting council meeting earlier this week, city, county, and state officials heard from neighbors fired up. This is the third sinkhole to hit the same area in 40 years. The last one was in 2004 and repairs were believed to have been made going into 2011.

"I wonder what was done from that point on to try and stop to this from happening in the future," Swieczkowski said.

While the city operates under a state of emergency and promises to work non-stop on the project, the family of one of the homes is already speaking with an attorney as they watch it and their belongings crumble into the ground.
 


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