Getting to the Bottom of the Summer Bay Resort Sinkhole

Just when things seemed as if they would turn out okay for Summer Bay Resort timeshare owners, we run across this news that reminds us many things can be more complicated than they appear on the surface. Certainly the Summer Bay Resort sinkhole doesn’t seem inconsequential or uncomplicated to anyone involved.

Two New Hampshire area residents, Debbi Ward and her sister Faith Clark, are grateful to be back in New England after the trauma of vacationing in one of the Summer Bay Resort timeshare units that was ultimately swallowed by a massive sinkhole. Ward explains, “I was in the bathtub. The water started jumping, the tub moved, because at that point the building was starting to twist.”

While she and her family members all escaped the experience without physical harm, they lost their clothes, laptop computers, cameras, cash, jewelry, and cell phones when their timeshare unit collapsed into the earth late on the evening of Sunday, August 11, 2013. (Read more here: Is the Orlando Summer Bay Resort Timeshare Sinkhole Growing? and here: The Insurance Issue for Summer Bay Resort Timeshare Owners).

According to CBS Boston, Local News, Ward and Clark have been notified by Summer Bay Resort ownership, via a letter, “alerting victims that the resort will not cover the cost of all that is gone, writing that homeowner insurance should pay for it.” Of course, not everyone carries sinkhole coverage as an add-on to a homeowner insurance policy.

In most states, sinkhole coverage is like flood insurance or earthquake insurance; you only have it if you add it on as an extra. This means that even though an individual’s homeowners insurance typically covers personal possessions when destroyed or stolen (whether they are at home or away from home), there are specific circumstances under which coverage is not provided unless the person also carries an additional insurance policy that specifically addresses that situation.

Large and complex insurance claims rarely are settled quickly. Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon to criticize Summer Bay Resorts, let’s give the situation a little more time to play out. Despite the fact that vacationers and others involved are justifiably greatly stressed and inconvenienced by the event, it has been only 2 weeks since the sinkhole occurred. Although it would be wonderful for all involved if restitution, processing,  and repairs happened instantly, and no one’s life was made more difficult because of such an experience, life rarely—if ever—works out with immediacy.

Here’s hoping for satisfactory resolution on the fastest timeline possible, for all who are dealing with the Summer Bay Resort sinkhole.