Bartow couple fighting uphill battle to get insurance to pay sinkhole claim

The home has cracks big enough to fit a hand

BARTOW, Fla. - A Polk County couple that is convinced that their house sits on a sinkhole, is finding out how hard it can be to get any help from their insurance.

James and Heather Williams have been trying to get help with their sinkhole troubles for nearly a year and a half.

"We've been here nine years, and now all of the sudden, this falls," said James Williams, pointing to the back of his house that appears to have shifted away from the rest of the house.

Most of the walls on their house are now a web of cracks big enough to fit an entire hand.

The couple is now living in fear, especially after the recent sinkhole in Seffner that swallowed a man while he slept.

"My heart broke and went out to that family, but my next throughout was, 'what if I'm next?'" said Heather Williams.

ABC Action News first told you about the Williams' sinkhole troubles last July, around the time they filed a claim with their insurance company.

Since then, the cracks and holes have gotten worse and their insurance denied the claim.

"They're not willing to pay anything," James said. "The porch is literally falling on your head as you walk out the door."

The insurance company told the Williams' that their experts found all of the shifting and cracking is due to building materials expanding or contracting.

The Williams' and their attorney, Brad Stewart, don't buy it.

Earlier this month, they hired an independent drill team to do their own tests, but are still waiting for the results.

"I get the feeling we're literally living on borrowed time, and we're just praying for a miracle," James said.

Stewart said this is a classic example of how hard it is for homeowners to get a sinkhole claim paid.

His advice? Get legal help and be patient, as insurers know how to drag their feet.

"It's very scary staying here," Heather said.

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