Insurance claim for kitchen

marvelousmarvinJune 29, 2013

This is my first time making a insurance claim because I usually just swallow any minor damages so I won't get dropped or see my rates increase.

But, my kitchen underwent so much significant damage that I had to make a claim. Everything except the kitchen sink and appliances had to be replaced; I needed to get new flooring, new cabinetry, new countertops, etc..

But, my insurance came up with a lowball offer of under 10K for the entire kitchen. I knew a kitchen remodel was going to cost significantly more, but I expected my insurance to come up with all these loopholes and other shenanigans to avoid paying for it.

So, with that budget, I was planning on saving money by using inexpensive particleboard cabinets like Ikea and stuff like that even though my original cabinetry were plywood. At the same time, I was sending my insurance an estimated cost for replacing my original plywood cabinets with plywood cabinetry that would cost way more than Ikea cabinets even though it came was from a moderate, not top of the line, cabinet manufacturer.

And, in a pleasant surprise, my insurance has approved that estimate for the plywood cabinets. My 'dilema', if you can call it that, is do I still need to buy those plywood cabinets now that the insurance has approved those plywood cabinets?

I don't want to leave money on the table by buying cheaper cabinetry than what the insurance is willing to reimburse me for.

But, could I just buy the Ikea particleboard cabinets and pocket the rest of the money that would have gone to buying the more expensive plywood cabinets? My friend got in an car accident and the insurance issued him a check to fix the damage to the car but he ended up pocketing the money instead of fixing the car and I was wondering if there was a difference between our situations.

Or, could I just buy the Ikea particleboard cabinets and use the difference to splurge on the rest of the kitchen. My original countertops were tile, and I'm planning on upgrading to granite countertops.

If the insurance issues me a check for something like 30K and I end up spending 30K for the kitchen, is that all kosher even though I spent significantly less for the cabinetry than what the insurance approved?

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Yes, they will write you check and you can spend the money however you see fit. At least that's how our insurance operates.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 8:57AM
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So sorry about your kitchen damage--what a tough way to get a "remodel" going! Our insurance works the same way as nosoccermom.

That said, make sure your insurance isn't just sending you a check for the cabinets. Maybe you were just using that as an example, but get estimates for everything that you need to replace, making sure that they're what *you* want. Then it's up to the insurance to make a counter (oops, sorry, ha ha) offer.

Someone else on GW had an upper cab fall off of the wall, crash onto the counter and floor! (I think my dog would never come out from under the bed again.) Her (I believe) insurance paid for all new cabs, counter, and floor because none could be matched in repair. And that's just from one cab! Unfortunately I don't remember if the insurance paid for granite counters if she had had laminate, for example, but maybe someone else does?

You don't know until you ask :).


    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:15AM
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You can look at it this way: they are paying you for what you lost, not what you choose to replace it with. You lost all plywood cabs, that is what was insured, so they are paying the cost of getting more all plywood.
There is nothing in your policy, I bet, to keep you from buying other than all plywood.

It would be different if your policy was structured so that the insurance co. paid the cabinet shop directly.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:40AM
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If you think your insurance company is low-balling you, you should consider hiring your own private adjustor to negotiate for you. They will charge you a commission but generally you come out way ahead than accepting the insurance company's first offer.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Some insurance companies write checks directly write checks to the contractors that are doing the work on the home. They've adopted that policy to keep people from getting a large check and then replacing the damaged items with much lesser quality than they will be insuring again. If the claim is large enough, many will also want to inspect the work done---with the products that they paid to replace--to be able to keep your policy in force.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Debbi Branka

I'm the person mtnfever was referring to. The insurance paid to replace everything I had in "like kind and quality" meaning they paid for builder grade cabinets with roll out trays, they covered laminate countertops and 4" backsplash, etc. We chose to upgrade to granite countertops so we paid the difference. We didn't upgrade the cabinets because we didn't really know any better and couldn't afford it at the time, but we did make upgrades to the cabinets such as bumping some out farther than the others, and raising some to the ceiling, and we added crown molding to all of them. So the answer here is the insurance paid for us to replace with like kind and quality, and we could upgrade (or downgrade) whatever we wanted.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 1:09PM
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My insurance will send somebody to inspect the kitchen after its finished.

So, if I didn't get the same cabinets the insurance paid to replace, then the policy might not be in force going forward and I might need to get another new policy?

Other than 'like kind and quality', what are the key words and phrases in your insurance so you won't get screwed by your insurance in situations like these?

I consider myself 'lucky' because I know other people in similar situations who also had insurance but kinda got shafted by their insurance. What was the difference between my policy vs theirs?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:16AM
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they would never know the cabs weren't plywood boxes, once the tops are on, but don't use the particle board stuff.....unless you want to replace it again later(which means you have to replace the granite too, since its a bear to get the layout exact enough to reuse the granite).....with $30k you should be able to get new hardwood or tile floors, nice all-wood cabs and 3cm granite and still pocket $10k if you shop around....assuming your kitchen has a normal 12x12-ish footprint

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 7:30AM
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