What you are entitled to from your insurance company, if your floors need to replaced after a flood.
Lately, 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.
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Theoretically, 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”
Most 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.
Likewise, 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.
What 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:
- Moving 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hotel stay – if refinishing hardwood floors (sometimes). 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.
- Dustless sanding – if you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma
- 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.
- Coretec Plus – Looks like hardwood, but it’s waterproof
- Waterproof flooring solutions for basements
- Trends in basement flooring
- Is laminate flooring waterproof?
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here. Due to popular demand, I’m now offering phone consultations as well.
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50 thoughts on “Flooded floors? Many don’t realize what insurance will cover.”
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
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.
Hey now just browsing and came across the post. Heres one for you I had a 2200 gallon fishtank explode and cuase damage to the entire first floor of our home. Insurance is now saying that the delaminanting in the 1/2″ T & G plywood is able to be screwed down and will be fine for the new hardwood floor. Hardwood contractor is saying NO WAY. Your opinion?
Scott – I agree with your contractor. NO WAY! Sounds like they have a novice there. That’s a ridiculous solution. I can’t for the life of me even figure out how that thought would have gotten in someone’s head. that is simply CRAZY. So, no it won’t work and it would look stupid and be unsafe. So, no. Listen to your contractor.
I really need to do a blog post of biggest flooring mistakes. This would be a good one to include in there.
I’m still shaking my head.
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
Thanks so much Wayne.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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.
I was wondering if some of the furniture is badly scratched up who would be responsible? Flooring company or insurance company? Flooring company did it. Also should we charge for staying in our rv?
Brenda – Most flooring companies have a disclaimer saying that they aren’t responsible for moving furniture, so check your contract. You can discuss with them though and see what they’ll do for you. Regarding charging for staying in your RV, I don’t know whether/how insurance company would pay, but I would ask them. Generally, they pay for you to stay at a hotel and then you give them a receipt and they pay for it. Not sure how they would handle staying in a place you own. Perhaps they have a per diem rate. I’m not sure. It might be handled similar to how they compensate you for moving your stuff (where they have an hourly rate. I would call them and ask. You have nothing to lose. You may also ask them if they cover scratched furniture. I have no idea if they would handle that. I hope that helps.
I had a flood from the dishwasher in my second floor condo. My insurer says they just cover the loss of damaged laminate flooring. The laminate was put in six years ago and is now discontinued. The owner downstairs with the same floor plan got approval through her insurance company to replace all the laminate and she had the same surface area damaged as mine.
David – First, sorry that this happened to you. Second, yes, your insurance should be covering full replacement for the floor. They would need to substitute the laminate, so you should get “like for like” or same value laminate…and for the full area. Also, you should know/tell them that once laminate is water damaged, it expands and won’t like up, so you can just replace a portion of it. If you choose to upgrade the flooring, then you would pay the difference, but they should be paying for what you had, including rip up and haul away.
We had a toilet overflow from the 2nd floor bathroom onto the 1st floor and finally to the basement. The prefinished hardwood was damaged and is warped. The insurance company is saying they want to wait 30-60 days before sanding it to see if they can salvage the boards instead of replacing it. ( we had a remediation company come in and dry our home). The wood floor is continuous throughout the first floor. Thoughts? Many thanks
Natalie – I kind of doubt it will go back. That being said, before you sand and refinish, you need to make sure all moisture is removed and test with moisture meter, otherwise you may have some real issue and may need to refinish a 2nd time. I would probably speak to a local hardwood place to see what their thoughts are and test the moisture. In general, waiting 30 days is probably a smart thing…there is still likely moisture in the subfloor. 60 days sounds a bit long to me.
Insurance is redoing my floors due to water damage I asked for my tiles to be put back down diagonally they say they have to put them back as was . I could not find the big tiles like I had before.
Insurance will only compensate you for the way the tiles were before. HOWEVER, you can have them laid on a diagonal and then pay for the extra. You will need to pay some additional for labor and for some additional tiles. You will have to pay the extra to the company you are working with (not insurance).
Regarding the tiles, that is not a surprise as they change all the time. Insurance is required to compensate you for “like for like.” Sometimes bigger tiles cost more, sometimes they don’t – it depends on the tile. If there are savings, that could be put towards the extra cost of doing a diagonal lay. They should be giving you the budget on how much per sq foot of tile and then you can figure things out from there.
I hope that makes sense.
My insurance company paid to replace my expensive wood flooring. However; I am planning to sell my house and want to replace with a less expensive wood. Can I keep the remaining money. I had upgraded the flooring from the original flooring.
Linda – Usually you can. But, some insurance companies will ask for paid receipts, so bear that in mind. The most important thing though, if you’re selling your home is to do whatever will help your home sell higher and faster. So if your more expensive wood is less popular/more polarizing by all means go to a more popular one that will sell better. But, I would not trade down from a solid hardwood to engineered hardwood, as an example, as that will be less appealing to buyers.
Maggie- I have had a liking problem under my sink since I moved two years ago on which have caused damages to my wood floor. Something I just found out because a wanted to to sand my wood floor and the guy that was going to do the job told me the floor has waves and is wet and refused not to do it. Checking into my whole living room we also found another spot that is lifting up near the window as well my under kitchen sink is damaged. Do you think this is something the insutrance will cover?
I also just replaced my roof. So I am a little concern that they will not cover. Advice please.
Maggie – You’ll need to talk to your insurance company. That’s the only way to find out if you’re covered.
And, yes, your flooring person did the right thing. You need to make sure everything is fully dried out and probably wait 30 days after that. Most likely some pieces will need to be replaced. Often, the sanding will take care of most of the waves, but follow the flooring person’s guidance as they can see it and know best (and better than your insurance company).
The insurance company either will or won’t cover it. and, if they will cover it, they should cover all the repair/sanding. Also, you have the option not to file it. It’s up to you.
Well, it is very noticeable that there is some water damaged on the wood floor. I just never thought this was something that the insurance might over, until I was informed. Not knowing this was happening my question is Since I just did my roof claim , do you think they will not cover?
Maggie – They may cover as it’s mechanical. But, every policy is different. You need to call them to find out.
Hi, our kitchen floor was damaged due to a leak. Insurance is not covering the entire square footage and we had a nice tile and they only want to give us $2.00 per sq ft. This will not get us like for like. He will not budge on either issues. What can we do?
Greta – That is unfortunate and it’s not right. I might start by reading my policy and/or talking to your insurance agent if you have one. I would then get an estimate from a contractor. I’m pretty sure that you will find that it’s not possible to find the same tile nor repair a section. Send them the estimate from the contractor. Usually, they will acknowledge an estimate from a licensed contractor. And, see if you can find your receipt for the tile as that will give you a base price (bear in mind prices increase every year).
And, most likely, you will not be able to find the same tile available, so there probably is no other option but to replace whole floor.
If they continue to be difficult, ask them for the I-tel report (which I’m guessing they didn’t do) and tell them that they’ll be hearing from your attorney. But, hopefully the contractors estimate will be sufficient. The I-tel report tells how much they should be paying you for the tile. $2/sf sounds super cheap and it would be extremely difficult to find any tiles for that price.
Hello Flooring Girl. I’ve had flood damage which dampened the carpet and padding in one room. I have the same carpet throughout the house. The insurance adjuster will replace the carpet in only the room saying that they stop at doorways. The carpet is 20 years old and is probably discontinued making a Like-to-Like match difficult. Should they replace the carpet in the hole house? Thanks.
Peter – Your insurance company really should pay to replace all since it won’t match, and I would push back on them, and if that doesn’t work, ask the contractor to help out and write out a contract that explains that. If you have an insurance agent, contact that person to intervene. We have had plenty of customers get much larger areas of carpeting replaced. Often, they may stop at the next floor, but usually everything on that level and/or steps would match.
Pls note that “like for like” is something slightly different. It just means finding something that is equivalent in type and quality. Clearly that is possible. But, your issue is that the carpet won’t match and will make the space looks smaller and choppier.
Hello! I was cleaning out an office nook which had furniture against the wall that had quite a bit of heavy files, etc. I finally moved the furniture and found damage on wood floor and discolored wall, clearly from a burst pipe or sprinklers outside. Since this was clearly not too recent will insurance cover an old issue? thanks
Nancy – You would need to contact your insurance agency about this. They are the only ones that can answer this and it may depend on your policy.
But, I’m doubting they will cover it as they usually require that something is reported within 1 year. Further, it’s from outside, it’s less likely that it will be covered. but, you can call them and see.
I had a toilet break and flood the upstairs bathroom and bonus room. It also affected the first few stairs–and the downstairs. The insurance company is paying for the stairs but not the great room below the stairs. The great room leads to the stairs and now they are all carpeted the same carpet. He said I can match it, but I don’t think I’ll be able to…He said they cover to a natural threshold…..but I consider a natural threshold to have to have a door.
Kathy – If the carpet on stairs and great room match, in my opinion, they should replace those to match. You can see if you can find a match, but I doubt that it will match if it was installed more than 6 months ago. Even if it was the same exact carpet, it would probably be different dye lot.
I would recommend that you push back on your insurance company. But, bear in mind, they are the final decision maker. If you have an insurance broker, that is your best bet. You 2nd option is to have a carpet company come in to see if they can match and if they can’t (which is likely), have them write up a proposal to the insurance company and have them write that they can not find a match. The insurance company is more likely to respect the claim from a professional who is a subject matter authority. Hopefully one of these two will work. I’ve been able to do things similar to this for my customers as I explain why it’s necessary in a professional proposal.
Good luck with your project.
Hello, I have a friend who had their Pergo laminate floors damage by a broken washing machine. The insurance took a sample of their floor and had it analyzed for value. They gave an estimate of $1.71 square foot. A few years back they paid over $4 a square foot. I think the insurance company is low balling them. How can they negotiate with the insurance company? They also said that they will only remove some of the baseboards or re-purpose some of them. Should they replace the baseboards? If they do, should they ask for the cost of painting the boards? Thank you in advance!
First, they should show their receipt of what they purchased to the insurance company. Do be warned though, that if they bought from Empire, they were probably over charged. Base molding if it wasn’t damaged, could be removed and replaced, so they would not need to pay for the moldings, but they would need to pay for the labor to remove and reinstall as well as the painting. Alternatively, shoe molding could be added and they would need to pay for that (and painting).
So anywhere the laminate is being replaced, the base molding will somehow need to be removed and reinstalled (or replace). That’s what holds it in place.
regarding should they replace them? that would be dependent on whether they got wet or moist…you want to avoid mold growth. Or if they got wet and expanded, so that they don’t look right.
I hope that helps.
My upstairs neighbor’s toilet overflowed and damaged my bathroom as well as the hallway carpeting outside the bathroom. Because of how the condo is configured, the living room, dining room and hallway carpet must be replaced. The carpet is 13 years old and though my insurance company will subrogate to hers, they are depreciating my carpet. I’m on the hook for 2/3 of the cost of the carpet replacement. In addition, I’m expected to install the new carpet over the old pad. What advice can you provide me?
Lisa – I’m sorry about your troubles. First, I’d follow up with your insurance company. It is standard to replace the carpet at current value, but they will often only give you 70% of cost upfront and remaining 30% after the work is completed and you show a receipt. If you are having a problem, review you policy and see if you have an insurance agent. It either sounds like they are cheating you or you selected a terrible insurance plan. And, yes, you DEFINITELY need new carpet padding. The padding helps make the carpet softer and last longer. And, this is often where the bacteria live and if you got water/dampness, it’s even more important. Don’t be pennywise pound foolish on this one. Push back on the insurance company. they should know better and want to avoid mold. Pull back the carpet in a small section and it will probably smell…and then tell them it smells and needs to be replaced. They need to insure your safety against mold.
Question, How can I tell if my tile was affected by a pipe burst causing the areas to be flooded? I just want to be sure that everything is addressed before I close out our claim.
Kelly Ann – I’m not quite sure what you mean. Is this regular tile? Is it cracked? Do you have plywood underneath? Are you afraid about the grout? This is really hard to answer. I suppose you can wait longer or call in a local expert. Usually tile is not an issue unless you had sewage or you have damage to the subfloor (if that was wood or something).
I cannot find the answer to this in my homeowner’s 3 booklet or the explination of benefits pages. My living room floor was damaged from a busted pipe. It is an open floor plan and it is has a foyer and a dining room that is connected to it. There is a step (less than a foot high) going up to the dining room, hallway, and the foyer. The dining room has about a 10 foot opening with no door. It has never had a door, only framing and molding. The foyer is the same but the opening is about 4 feet. The insurance company has called this a continuos flooring in the past and had to replace it but now they are trying not to replace it. I have the best insurance money can buy. Any help is SO FOREVER appreciated.
Kritin – Usually, when here is a step down, they do not consider it continuous flooring, especially if it’s hardwood (they might if it’s carpet. But, if they have done that in the past, I would push them hard on that. And, if you do have the best insurance money can buy, you should have an insurance agent, and I would contact that person to get them to lobby for you.
These insurance coverage questions should be answered by a public adjuster. Different carriers play by different rules in different states.
That is a really good point, Thomas.