What you are entitled to from your insurance company, if your floors need to replaced after a flood.

westchester NY hardwood flooringLately, we have a lot of customers who have had water damage on their floors.  Water damage can happen for a number of reasons (too many to list) and sometimes it is covered by insurance – either homeowner’s insurance or someone else’s insurance (e.g. if it was caused by the town or your condo, or an appliance under warranty, etc).


I am not an expert on whether or not your insurance covers the damages…you will need to speak to the insurance agent about that.  But, if it is covered by insurance, it’s important to understand what you can be compensated for.  Many homeowners do not realize the full scope of what they are entitled to, so below is a checklist of some not so obvious items to include, if your floors have been damaged.


flooding and damaged flooring in westchesterTheoretically, you should be compensated for “like for like” which means you are basically entitled to get the same type of flooring that you had or something of equivalent value.  And, you should be compensated for the full costs associated with achieving that (although for most policies, there is some sort of deductible).  This is how most (but not all) insurance policies work.


Replacing “like for like”


westchester county carpetingMost insurance companies will provide you with a report of what you are entitled to, and it is usually based on an I-tel report.  They will often send a sample of what you had to I-tel for analysis, so you will be compensated for the same sort of of quality.  For example, if you had an inexpensive berber carpet, you will be compensated for that; or if you had an expensive wool carpet, that’s what you would be compensated for.  You may not be able to find the exact same style or color (as carpet styles and color trends change all the time), but you would be able to get something equivalent to what you had.  If you choose to change the type of carpet you do and upgrade, you can, but you will need to pay for the difference in value.


hardwood flooring dark in westchester NYLikewise, if you had hardwood, you would be compensated for hardwood – same species, width and treatment.  If you choose to upgrade, you can (and pay the difference), or if you choose to change to a different type that costs the same or a different color, you are entitled to that.  Basically, you get an allowance, and anything that comes in above that, you have to chip in for.


What if you want to spend less than what the insurance company allocates?  Well this depends on your insurance company and your policy.  Some policies will only compensate you IF the work is completed; some will only give you some of the money up front, and the remainder after you’ve paid for the work, or after you’ve submitted a signed contract with a flooring company.


westchester county vinyl flooringWhat if the bill comes to more than the insurance company has allotted?  Well again, this will depend on the insurance company/adjuster and policy.  Often, in my experience, when you have a legitimate invoice or estimate from a flooring company that is in fact replacing “like for like,” they will compensate you for this.  Usually, the insurance company uses national rates for their estimates, and sometimes these are not appropriate for your geography (or for your particular circumstances).  Also, sometimes, they do things purely on a per square foot basis, but don’t take into account that estimates for small areas may come out with a higher cost per square foot.  Usually, when they see a legitimate estimate from a reputable company and the price is justified, they will cover it.  Likewise, if there are additional items that come up during the installation that were unforeseen, they will usually compensate for this as well (for example sometimes when the hardwood is ripped up, the plywood underneath is damaged, and this must be replaced as well).


What else should insurance pay for beyond the flooring? Items that may not be obvious:

  1. westchester hardwood flooringMoving furniture – furniture needs to be moved when flooring is installed.  Some of our customers prefer that we do this work; others prefer to do themselves.  Regardless, the insurance company should be compensating either the flooring company or you for your time.
  2. Content manipulation – This refers to moving all the loose/breakable items and replacing them afterwards.  Usually, the insurance company has a fixed rate per hour to compensate the homeowner. I believe it is usually $35-40/hr.
  3. Painting base boards – often baseboards need to be repainted or touched up after flooring is done (this depends on the nature of the flooring).  Some homeowners choose to hire professional painters to this work; others prefer to do themselves; either way, the insurance company should be compensating you for it.
  4. Hotel stay – if refinishing hardwood floors (sometimes)replacing hardwood floors westchester county.  If you are refinishing the hardwood floors, you can not walk on these areas for several days.  If this blocks your way to the bedrooms and/or bathrooms and/or the smell is over powering, you are usually entitled to a stay at a hotel.
  5. Dustless sanding – if you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma
  6. Clean up/dusting – Often, after the work is done, there is some clean up afterwards, especially if it involved sanding and refinishing.  Usually, this is as simple as dusting.  Some people pay a cleaning person for this; some do it themselves.  Either way, you should be compensated for it.


Many homeowners in Westchester don’t realize the full scope of what they are entitled to when they are replacing their floors after a flood or water damage.  The above checklist should help.
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16 Response Comments

  • Will Parini  November 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Great post Debbie and so accurate. I know that they kept damaging things as they went so one more thing had to be replaced. It’s kind of cool though that all these older items are being replaced because of their own negligence. Hey keep it up, I might get a whole new house by the end. HA

    • TheFlooringGirl  November 29, 2012 at 1:25 am

      Hi Will. I’m so glad I got to read your post and so happy that your insurance company is covering you for the damage from your dishwasher. Hopefully, your job will be finished soon and you can get your life back to normal. And, you’re right, you are getting some much newer replacement so sometimes life has a way of working itself out.

  • Wayne  December 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Great article. It is a very common concern that people have about having hardwood flooring in areas that may be opt to flood. Thanks for sharing.
    Wayne@ Palatine Hardwood Flooring

  • Scott  March 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Interesting article. I’m having an issue with my insurance company covering certain areas of our hardwood floor refinishing. For example, we had water damage from Super Storm Sandy and the insurance company is covering resanding/refinishing of all open area hardwood floors. However, any areas near where the damage was that have doors to them (for example, powder rooms, kitchen pantry), they won’t cover these areas even though the floor is a continuous floor w/no transition stops. Basically, the boards continue into these rooms/areas. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      Scott – They really should be covering these areas since they are continuous. Also, your flooring should all be the same color, so that would be another argument. I would try to push back on them. Usually, they will allow this. You might need to get an estimate from a flooring contractor to validate it. If you have an insurance broker, you could call him/her and ask for help to get it through.

      Alternatively, if they won’t cover it and you don’t want to do/pay for those areas, you could add some saddles there. (and the insurance should cover that).

      I hope that helps.

  • Dan  September 14, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Very interesting post. Like Scott, I am having issues. I had major leakage through the roof,damaged (warping and cupping of hard wood) 2nd story floors in two rooms and stained dinning room hardwood below. These are 80 year old floors. Ins. Wants to pay me $50 per room to sand the damaged spot. A- no contractor is going to come out to the country for a $150 job. B- can a warped spot even be saneed for that and correct the problem? C- I feel the whole floor should be done. Not just the spot.

    What can irealisically push for?

    • TheFlooringGirl  September 15, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Dan – Yes, that’s ridiculous on so many levels. At a minimum, the whole room needs to be sanded and refinished. Pending on the layout and if where/there are saddles, you may need to refinish more. This has never been a problem for my customers when they explain what’s involved. Also, yes, no one will come out for $50 or $150. (And, it’s at a minimum 3 trips to do work, so that would be $50/visit.) No good (and licensed contractor would do that. they would lose money.

  • Jan  January 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    We are having a problem with insurance. Our freezer line burst and water went under our hardwoods. The hardwoods are mirage and are throughout our home continus. Ins wants us to purchase 80 sq ftthat effected and have someone sand and refinish the rest of kitchen 260 sq ft. That’s is not an option for us because refinishing it will never look the same next to the other flooring. In addition the mirage we have throughout is now discontinued. We need insurance to replace all hardwood flooring prob 1200 sq ft in total. We are afraid we are going to have a fight with ins over this. Your thoughts?

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 8, 2017 at 4:31 am

      Jan – Oh yes, I feel your pain. You’re right, they should replace the whole thing. You will never match it. Usually insurance companies are more understanding when an item is discontinued and when you have prefinished wood. In addition, I would explain to them that this is engineered wood.

      By the way, replacing 80 sf is NOT an option. It will never match in color or from a locking perspective. At a minimum, they need to pay to replace the entire kitchen.

      Note: in my experience, working with regular insurance companies is much easier. When you are working with appliance companies, they are more difficult and stingy and tend to take longer.

      I would definitely push back on them and make sure at least that they take care of whole kitchen. You are definitely entitled to that. And, you can easily argue this with engineered wood, not to mention that if it’s sanded, they’ve decreased the durability of wood and life of the wood.

      Good luck.

  • Jeff  January 13, 2017 at 11:11 am

    I had a water heater rupture in a central closet in my home. As a result, we have had water damage to every floor in my house that isn’t tile. The insurance company is paying to replace the floors…

    However, in 3 bedrooms we have hardwood flooring with carpet on top. The insurance company is saying they only will replace the carpet, and not the hardwood underneath.

    From my perspective, if I had hardwoods floors that were completely damaged, my insurance should replace them. Your thoughts?

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 14, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Jeff – This depends on whether the hardwood underneath was damaged. I’ve seen insurance companies handle it both ways. If the hardwood was damaged, they would need to replace that (or refinish it) + replace the carpet. They need to replace “like for like.” And, they certainly can’t leave wet/damaged/compromised floors there.

      All that aside, and independent of what they give you, it’s generally less expensive to refinish hardwood than replace carpet. So if the floors are in good enough condition underneath to refinish, then you can collect the money for the carpet and put it towards refinishing and then pocket the rest. And, of course if the flooring is damaged or partially damaged due to water, they should pay for that.

  • Andrea  January 27, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    We had a washing machine break and poor out water into 5 rooms causing the laminate to become damaged. The insurance company only quoted us for the areas were they ripped up the flooring (formal living and family room)but my dining room and kitchen are are all continuous with the family room all the same floor all on big room. Shouldn’t they be paying for that extra rooms? No walls and no breaks in rooms

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

      Yes, your insurance company definitely pays to replace the whole are since it’s continuous and it will probably be next to impossible to match. I would try to speak to your insurance agent if you have one. They can usually help correct this. Also, you can have a contractor come in and confirm this for you and write up an estimate and submit it to your insurance company.

  • Ann  January 28, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I had a water damage that affected downstairs but my wood floor goes up the stairs and through the entire house. When the insurance company sent out their own contractor to do the measurment, they measured the whole house. However,they called me back and only approved for flooring on the 1st floor. How can I argue to get my stairs and the entire 2nd floor for continuity purpose? appo

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      Ann – You’re going to have a very difficult time getting that approved. Generally they will only include the floor that is impacted. The other floors has not been impacted by the water damage, so they are not responsible for that. You may be able to get the steps included, but that’s probably it so that it looks normal on the main floor.


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