Let’s be honest, anyone with an insurance claim has come up with this or that idea in their head. Insurance companies have been doing things for years to earn a bad rap. I have been working in the insurance restoration industry for the last 10 years and during that time I can honestly say that I have rarely met a regulator or contractor who wanted to sink into the settlement. I have seen this several times when it was extremely difficult to work with a policyholder. Yes, there are bad ratings, but most of the time you feel “short or cheated” because you don’t understand your policy and how it pays off.
The biggest misunderstanding is usually the issue of compliance. Insurance policies are specifically written with terminology and phrases to avoid matching. The homeowner’s scope is to replace damaged items of the same type and quality. As a homeowner and contractor, I often disagree and fight as much as I can. The simplest way to explain this policy is to list the situations that you are likely to get into. Let’s say you have a flood when you need to remove the carpet in the hallway. The same carpet runs through all the houses. The living room opens and connects directly to the hallway on the same rug, and you have 3 bedrooms right in the hallway and a cabinet with French doors off the living room. The carpet in the hallway and living room will be replaced, but the carpet in the bedrooms and office is unlikely to be replaced as most insurance policies are written to stop at the door.
The other situation is usually with kitchen cabinets. If water damages your lower kitchen cabinets (or fire, your top), most insurance companies will allow you to replace damaged cabinets (meaning all of your lower or all tops). If you have custom / custom cabinets, you will probably be given an individual price to rebuild that cabinet set to match what was there. Kitchen cabinets are very rare these days, but it is not impossible. Over the past 25 years, there have been hundreds of cabinet styles and custom finishes from hundreds of manufacturers. Unless you change your kitchen recently, it will take a lot of research to find the cabinet maker who made your cabinets (a good place to find a manufacturer is inside the door. Suppose you find a manufacturer, companies usually break the line every 4-7 years or make significant changes .Without a possible interrupted permit, it is very likely that the elements have changed the finish of your cabinets.Your contractor may have referred problems to your regulator, depending on the difficulty, they may add extra money to get a close match, possibly an optional cabinet.
Here are a few options to choose from:
1) You can change your budget and get quotes from cheaper cabinet locations to replace your entire wardrobe. Remember, using cheaper items to remodel elsewhere will have the money you need to spend on your new cabinet budget.
2) You can certainly create a unique custom kitchen by finding an opposite trim cabinet to replace your lower or upper. It is very common today to blend cabinet trim to give you a unique custom look to match your style. For example, let’s say your cabinets are a cherry cabinet made of shakes, designed in a shaker style. You could go with additional stained or painted trim cabs, maybe vintage white or black paint.
3) If alignment / matching is not your style, consider coloring. My best example of this is the fire I made in 2007. Durham, NC; my client had a burning fire that burned the trim of her 3 upper cabinets over the stove. The insurance company authorized the replacement of these upper cabinets. She was not happy with it. (Now, to be honest, she was an extremely intelligent professor at Duke University and as soon as the fire broke out she started dreaming about her new kitchen.) When I allocated the estimate to our cabinet budget, she was very disappointed. She wanted her new kitchen. I replaced the 3 damaged cabinet parts with unfinished stock that matched the style and repainted all its obsolete oak cabinets into a new beautiful modern black. We added new hardware, repainted the walls, and was able to get new countertops for it by opting for cheaper replacement floors. Within 2 weeks, she had a brand new remodeled kitchen with nothing more than what was deducted from her pocket.
4) You can order cabinets to fit your existing cabinet, and if they don’t fit enough, you can go back to your insurance company and ask them to come back to help you with another option. NOTE: If you choose a completely different kitchen than you had, and choose to test your existing cabinets and break down, the insurance company is not going to pay for the newly replaced cabinets. Don’t go out and pick up cabinets that won’t clearly match your cabinets, then call the insurance company and say, “I tried to match the cabinets, but they don’t match.” This is a scam and you may be charged.
The best advice I can give anyone is to understand your policies. Look closely at your declarations page. Understand your coverage. If your home changes, renew your insurance as needed to protect your home, yourself, and your family.
Understanding your claim can be easy and confusing. It’s easy if you listen, write notes, and ask questions (both for your insurance company and your contractor). I’ve seen homeowners become completely dishonest about a claim when they try to make sense of it by not knowing enough, or by trying to break down the estimated line item by line item and put all the amounts into a “check” by the contractor or regulator. Just remember that life becomes troubled when it is least comfortable. It is never a good time to submit an insurance claim. However, life is unpredictable and it will hit you in the face with all the balls in the air. I recommend to all my clients to buy a spiral notebook or notebook at the time they have to file a claim. Make a note of everything, because if you are like everyone else, you will forget their name and lose contact information and / or claim number as soon as you come up with a question for your correspondent. Keep track of everything. Start collecting pictures of the things you like that you need to change. It’s good to dream, but don’t be unrealistic. Don’t think that if something gets wet it will be replaced. Carpet is one of the most contentious items. Most homeowners believe the carpet was wet for a few hours before it was discovered, so it will be tucked away as unsuitable. If class 1 / category 1 (clean water) is lost, most carpets can and will be saved. Restoration companies are highly trained to dry these items. Carpet replaced as a last resort. The pad may need to be replaced, reattached / reattached and cleaned, but in rare cases it will need to be replaced. Postponement is the reason for substitution. Coating is when primary and secondary carpeting are separated. One of my favorite arguments for carpet replacement was one in my home in Virginia that claimed her carpet was not wet before and should be replaced. I should have laughed from the inside when she said this because although I am convinced that the 83 gallons of water we had removed from her room had not been lost before; the water did not hurt her rise. She reasoned her mind (I think she was a law student) for almost an hour and a half. She didn’t win. She said the water was damaging to the tissue, and since it was not damp before its loss, it should be replaced with a previous condition. I agree that water is damaging to some fabrics, but its carpet was not made of silk or wool. It was an average nylon rug, and after checking out the 8-10 clothing (looking for nylon) labels she usually wears and washes, she dropped that argument. She denied that the carpet was discolored / darkened where the carpet was wet. Yes, where the water was, it was darker because it was still wet! After two days of drying the carpet, the homeowner confirmed that the carpet had returned to its original color. Nevertheless, her other argument was that the carpet had now been damaged when wet. She couldn’t really explain what she meant, but I was sure I knew where she was trying to go. When I explained to her that the carpet is usually made in several “water baths” during production. Having learned that water is used in the production process, she had no further arguments. If you want to try to replace your intact rug, feel free to use one of its arguments. If the carpet gets wet with clean water and does not look like you have been cleaned, look for paint on the feet of the furniture. Painting is a good reason to change the carpet.
Drywall finishes and finishes are other commonly damaged items in the home when water is lost. Drywall repairs are 100% acceptable for restoration. The insurance company owes no money to replace all drywall in the room because there was a section that needed to be removed. Understand that drywall can usually be dried without any associated problems. If a section needs to be removed, the patch will fit to the area of the square that was removed. Properly applied and faded patch will not be noticeable, if your contractor needs another drywall crew, repeat the repair. Yes, drywall hangs on 4×8 or 4×12 sheets, but that doesn’t mean you need a whole new drywall sheet “because it wasn’t patched before.” Any new drywall will be sealed and painted to match.
Insurance companies / regulators are starting to unleash the paint on the room. It varies from company to company – from adapting to adapting to the customer – and from the customer’s point of view. For two years, two coats of paint were applied on the new drywall and one coat on the rest of the wall (corner to corner). The theory from angle to point is that when painting a room you can / usually stop in a corner once you have painted the entire wall. You will never want to stop right in the middle of the wall because it will be noticeable. Also with corner to corner, if the paint tint is slightly revealed, it will not be visible as it stops in the corner and light casting shadows will also affect the paint tint. Faced with a lot of contractor arguments about painting the rest of the walls, over the past 2 years we have seen the rule-to-corner rule relax. Usually now, if I have a room 12×12 and I stick one of the walls, I apply two coats of paint to two coats of primer on the new drywall. I can usually get the regulator to approve the repainting of the rest of the walls. That doesn’t mean you have to change your 12×12 powder blue dining room to a Victorian red. This means you will get a fresh blue powder coating in the dining room. However, if you are nice to your contractor, you can upgrade that blue powder color to a similar tonal color like gray blue. Developing and fostering a good relationship with a contractor can only be good for you.
One of the other biggest items that owners don’t realize they won’t cover is the cost of repairs. Example: A ring between your toilet tank and a bowl rotting can cause your toilet to leak. The insurance will cover the damage caused by the toilet. However, they will not cover the cost of repairing or replacing that toilet or the cost of hiring a plumber to go out, turn off the water and remove the toilet. In short, your insurance company is not trying to “stick with you”. It is important to note that any water damage needs to be cleaned up on time. Water damage can spread to mold damage, so your insurance company will probably not pay for it mold inspection if they think you helped the mold progress by delaying the drying of the place. If something doesn’t make sense. Ask about it. If you don’t understand the answer or are having trouble adjusting, ask their supervisor. If someone raises a flag in the minds of supervisors, they can and often send another regulator / field inspector or go out and investigate. Don’t be afraid to ask if you really feel that you are not being treated correctly. Your insurance agent can also help you explain your policy.
No matter what you feel you owe, just because you have been paying insurance for x years does not mean that you will get everything and anything you want. Compensation is a basic insurance principle, stating that you, as the insured, should not be allowed to profit from insurance losses. This principle is important and helps protect both the insurance company and you.