insurance claim kitchen

dian57December 28, 2007

My kitchen, garage and laundry room flooded over a week ago. We're done with the drying and clean-up and the adjuster has been here to assess. My base cabinets were all but destroyed (MDF) and I'm unable to get exact replacements as they are over 30 years old.

My problem at the moment is the amount the adjuster applied to the damage (floor, countertops and cabinets) won't even cover builder's grade cabinets, let alone installation, a floor and countertops.

I have an appointment with the Armstrong showroom KD next week to get documentation that the Triangle Pacific cabinets are no longer manufactured. I want her to price a comparable kitchen for me as a place to start.

Any advice on dealing with insurance claims?

I have a feeling tis is not going to be a warm and fuzzy experience for me.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Get an independent insurance adjuster to come in and fight for real replacement costs for a kitchen. We had the same thing happen last year with a leak. The insurance claim did not cover the price of basic cabinet replacements, let alone everything else. We met an adjuster since this happened and he told us we should have had another public adjuster come in that works for us, not the insurance company. At the very least, your wall cabinets need to be replaced also. He laughed when we told him the insurance company only covered the base cabinets.

Don't forget about the reinsultion costs under the house since everything is wet and needs to be replaced.

And make sure you get decent demo costs. I received $400 to demo the kitchen. It took me a full week to pull up the tile and 3 layers of underlayment. Plus the cost of the dumster. Our contracter friend would have charged me $3500 he said.

They probably won't replace the appliances but will give you money to disconnect and reconnect them so you may have to eat thse costs.

Also, they hold back a certain amount of the money until you have actually done repairs, so as soon as you have receipts, submit them to get the rest of the money.

Sorry this happened. Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 8:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with cleo_2007 - I've never had the experience but friends have - it's a shame you pay for insurance and then have to fight for your benefits but that's the way it works - an independent adjuster will get you what you're entitled to - you do have to pay a fee or percentage - but even with that you should come out way ahead of what the insurance company initially offers you.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Absolutely don't take their first offer. Get documentation on what it would take to get things back to working order and show that to the insurance company. Don't get frustrated and accept an offer in a need to hurry things along. Accept that this will be a long process.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Check your policy and see if you have replacement, loss of use, coverage. If you do tell the adjuster you will get bids on all the work necessary to fix everything and get back to him. Check also if you have building code upgrade coverage because you may have to bring plumbing, electrical up to code. Call your building department and ask if you need to pull a permit, find out cost and procedure. Document everything.Take pictures before, during and after demo.

If you have loss of use coverage make reservations at a hotel that has a full kitchen and tell the insurance adjuster you will be staying there until your house if fully livable again and giving him the bill.

When this happened to us State Farm covered everything. We stayed at the Marriott . One of DH managers just moved back in to his house after staying at the Marriott for 3 months while his house was being repaired. The plastic connector from one of his toilets let go and flooded his entire house. They had to replace dry wall, cabinets, floors, you name it. State farm rented a C train and move everything out of the house. Damaged furniture was fixed or replaced. He did say State Farm is going after the home builder and manufacture of the plastic connector.

DH told him to hire a good plumber and have all water valves replaced with good ball valves. Sorry this happened to you but don't let the insurance company tell you what they will pay. You have to tell them and make sure you get everything your policy covers.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 12:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is what happened to us Sept 6th!!! I'd ask your adjuster who & how many GC's gave estimates regarding replacement cost, then go get 3 more to compare. Won't cost you anything. If there is a big discrepancy the go with a mediator/independant adjustor, in (Saskatchewan) Canada the minimum cost is $250.
I would let the insurance do ALL the demo, they need to get all the permits, plumbers, electricians etc who are certified and make all the payments to them..........too much of a headache for me. Personally we are doing a few DIY remodels (our cost) but I'd hire it ALL out, which is the biggest arguements in our home right now. For me it would just make life simplier and quicker.........remember Sept 6th!!!!!!
With our insurance if we want to upgrade anything we just pay the extra, installation is all covered ex) 1/2" OSB upgraded to 3/4" plywood for tiles....which actually was a credit to our insurance GC so we will put it towards tile cost from our old lino.
Pretty much all your install is covered with insurance, so now is the time to upgrade for minimal cost to you.....this is what my insurance adjuster told me to do. In our situation (it, of course, wasn't planned) any upgrade is Money $$ not saved up for, but I figure is well worth spending. Ours was 30 yrs old too.
Keep track of all your time spent doing anything in the home and all bills.........just in case they cover you for them.
Only our bottom cabinets were replaced, even after many discussion, so we are footing the bill for the uppers. We found a small local custom cabinet maker who does wonderful work (I've seen many pics, talk to customers, seen 3 of his kitchens personally) who gave a fantastic deal and will be done quicker than any large cabinet place in the nearest city.
Good luck and take lots of pics along the way!!! Can't wait to see: )

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow saskatchewan_girl Why didn't they replace the upper cabinets? The fellow that works for DH said he had no problem with the insurance company. They replaced the uppers because they couldn't match the lowers. He did pay to upgrade from tile to granite. Insurance paid for the new sink because the old one, the house was only 5 years old, wouldn't fit in the new cabinets plus he put hard wood floors in instead of carpet and tile in the kitchen and the insurance paid for it.

When we had the big flood our insurance just gave me a check, big check, for all the estimates I gave them. I hired all the subs, paid them with my own check, and I really don't think State Farm cared what I did. We painted ourselves so saved that money to up grade something else. They even paid me to move my antique furniture because I couldn't find a moving company that would take the responsibility and couldn't guarantee no damage.

When I submitted the bill for the Marriott, along with food allowance, and mileage from driving back and forth from the hotel to the house they paid with no questions ask.

We also have a mortgage protection policy, different company, and they covered our deductible and paid our mortgage for the time the house was unlivable. It costs under $150.00 a year and covered everything. Will even pay off the mortgage if the house is a total loss, even from earthquakes, We had a small mortgage with that house but my State Farm agent said it was the best money we could spend when I showed him the policy.

You really have to do your home work with insurance. I go over our once a year and finally ask for a list of everything that I could add to our policy. We added quit a bit and it didn't cost much more. My question to my agent was why wouldn't we buy demolition and removal for a total loss if we had known about it. Cost less than $20.00 a year but would save thousands if we needed it.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 4:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Come right out, in your face kind of question, and ask the adjustor what legal recourse you have, in case you do not agree with his determination. He should tell you that, among other avenues, you have the right to contact the Insurance Commissioner of your state, and any other regulatory agencies of this ilk.

Ask her/him why they cannot provide installation, matching cabinets, floor, etc. Ask him, very sweetly, to put it in writing.

Ask the adjustor if s/he is an actual employee or agent of the insurer? (Is he an adjustor working for other insurers, also?) But just ask the adjustor if he is an emp or agent of the insurer. The adj will get the idea where you are coming from.

Keep us informed.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 5:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Call your bank if you haven't already- they'll likely be on the check, and they'll have requirements for inspections and draws on the money that you and your contractor will need to be aware of.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 9:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks so much for your advice. This is an intimidating process and it's good to have friends with experience giving you hints along the way.

Wednesday's the cabinet appointment.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 6:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sorry to hear dian - as one who experienced a flood and previously working for a mjr insurance co - I can empathize with you.
That said, i agree w/ a lot of the advice/op here esp partst - really depends on your policy language - 1st thing is to get a copy of the actual policy (not the declaration page which is what they send) - then determine the replacement cost, actual cash value, code etc...

Additionally if you would like to be displaced - and own a private free standing home, you are likely entitled to a rental of same - not a hotel. & if your home was built before the 80's it likely contains lead based paint - perhaps asbestos which should be tested and abated appropritaely.

A lot of how the process goes will hinge on who the insurance carrier is Standards & poore ratings AAA is best

Best advice would be to know your policy and what you are entitled to - keep meticulous records- and stay on the task until you are satisfied - "final payment" should not happen until job is done, everything damage has been accounted for -
good luck

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 10:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sorry to hear of your troubles...i second the recommendation to have all plumbing checked and similar failure prone areas replaced. try to get the insurer to pay for that and of course all the other things...
we lost a simple mdf vanity once to a flood and that was a huge pain, i can't even imagine losing all the base cabinets. ever since that time we have installed cabinets with short little nylon feet on each corner. this probably isn't the best thing for the cabinets but i don't really care!! also, i recommend plastic "toilet" shims for cabinet installation. shims are almost always needed and the plastic ones will not absorb any liquid (even a small spill) the way that regular pine shims will. if you're allergic to mold like i am this is a big deal...
hope your new year is much better. kren

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 12:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi All -

Lifetime insurance person here -

You have been given some good advice - Here's how i would handle it.

Get your three estimates to bring your kitchen up to it pre-damaged condition. If your upper and lower cabints matched before damage, of course they will need to after. The policy should be written to replace with "like kind and quality". Expect they will reimburse the middle bid.

Keepin mind your adjusters performance at work is graded on how quickly they close claims and for how much. (good grade for less bad grade for more) If your adjuster gives you grief, ask them to show you the policy language that allows for they way they are adjusting. If you don't have replacement cost, then you can expect to hear words like depreciation and only paying for what was damaged. most GOOD agent won"t sell a policy without replacement cost. However, many people with directly written policies get into trouble here because they don't have anyone advising them. They just tell the Geico guy on the phone in India to make it as cheap as possible - they get what they pay for - not much.

Help the adjuster close your claim quickly by reviewing your policy and presenting what you want and negotiating from there. Don't leave it up to them to come up with the numbers - you won't be happy.

Also - the others are correct about Building Code Upgrade and Loss of use coverage (house or hotel, whatever you prefer).

The Best or Standard and Poor rating have nothing to do with how well a company pays claims, only that they have the money to do so. for instance Allstate has lots of $$ and is a financially sound company. However, they are notorious for paying claims on the courtroom steps. They ALWAYS decline and lowball 1st and make you get a lawyer. most people dont and it saves them tons of money - thats why they are so financially sound.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am an adjuster, handling malpractice insurance claims against lawyers and accountants -- very different from homeowners claims so there may be specifics I don't know. That said, I would like to especially second two suggestions: 1) get a public adjuster to advocate for you, because the carrier's adjuster is NOT on your side and depending on alot of things (the company, the individual adjuster, etc) may be incompetent, or corrupt, or both (or, of course, neither)--at the very least, things have not started out very well. And, 2) read your policy, read your policy, read your policy. There is no substitute for reading your policy--your entire policy, not just the Declarations Page (the dec page will list under a section entitled "Forms and Endorsement" or something similar all the other parts of your policy, by form number - make sure you have them all). You can't rely on what the carrier's adjuster tells you about your coverage -- he/she may be lying, or just mistaken, but it's up to you to verify everything.

Good luck, I hope everything works out all right.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 1:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This morning I noticed my floor to ceiling, wall to wall farmer's pantry in the kitchen is pulling away from the walls and ceiling. From the drying or the flood, I'm not sure but I tried to call the claims dept. immediately to report this. I was on hold over an hour and a half and finally hung up in disgust.

I have spent all day taking pictures and removing items from cabinets and now, the farmer's pantry. I am exhausted and have placed a call to a public adjuster as advised.

The sight of my Christmas tree taking up valuable space in my living room is getting on my nerves. After this cup of coffee, it's gotta go.

My kingdom for a clean surface.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

dian57--hire a Public Adjuster. You will not regret it. This was the best decision we made after our fire. He infuriated my insurance adjuster over and over again because he did not allow him to push me around and bully me because he knew their game.

The average layperson is not meant to understand or to be able to interpret their policy, although I certainly encourage you to read it as well. They are written to be ambiguous and difficult to understand. You need help and you need an advocate or you will get screwed.

I'm sorry you are going through this.

partst--I hope you know how lucky you were. IMHO your experience was the exception and not the rule.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 3:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well as you see I'm Canadian so our insurances may differ because of this. Hope your's goes better for you : ) We've discussed this over & over with our Ins Agent & GC and now the GC must think we are b****er's and money hungry LOL, I'm already $4000 poorer and we aren't near finished yet!!
All I know is that every time I call someone, pay for anything kitchen related or drive anywhere........they are getting the bill now!! I keep track of everything.
Good luck :)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 1:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't consider myself as being lucky or the exception. I received exactly what our policy said I could expect with the loss. Replacement and returning everything to pre flood condition. I didn't expect anything more or less. After paying for the insurance for years it was our first claim and I have to believe that having a yearly meeting with our agent and asking questions, reading the policy and asking more questions was key.

Insurance is expensive so I had to educate myself to understand it plus I believe State Farm has a better record for handling claims than other companies I have looked into. We have a high deductible that helps with the overall cost but that said I also believe insurance is a part of the responsibility of home ownership.

We live in the mountains and several years ago had a fire come through and 22 homes were lost. I was floored at the number of home owners who didn't have any insurance. Mostly retired folks how didn't have a mortgage so they didn't have to buy insurance if they didn't want to. It was very sad to see these old people who couldn't understand that someone wasn't coming to rebuild there homes. But like I said home ownership comes with responsibility and just one of those is insuring yourself in case the unforeseen happens

Living in California we also carry earthquake insurance, not many do, it isn't that expensive and the deductible is high but it's better than nothing or waiting for the government to come save us. Again it's part of the responsibility of owning a home.

Plus as added protection get some of those little water alarms. I got them on Ebay and have one under every water valve in the house. They don't cost much and sound like a smoke alarm when even a drop of water hits them. I don't want to ever wake up and step on soggy carpet again. Even with really good insurance who wants the hassle.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 11:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great job Partst!

I, like Partst, feel that you SHOULDN'T be the exception. However, when one tells the person on the other end of the phone, just get me what the mortgage requires for the least cost - you often get much less than what is expected. Therefore, you are certainly in the minority,if not the exception.

It floors me how much time and energy people will spend on buying consumer goods that they don't need and how little time they will spend on protecting their future. Then, when things don't go as they expected, the insurance industry gets a bad rap because they should have come in and paid for everything.

There is good coverage and bad coverage, good companies and bad companies - do you know what you have? Most people that have spent the time and energy on their insurance (maybe as much time as I spent researching my faucet) have similar results as Partst.

There is one more thing that you can do when purchasing insurance - I feel strongly that I buy my insurance from someone who can advocate for me in a claims situateion. If you buy from an agent who only sells one "brand" of insurance - they can't do too much if a claim goes wrong. They are going against their only income source if they advocate for you. If you buy from an independent agent, they will advise you on your coverage and keep the company honest. They don't work for the company so they can do a better job for you the consumer.

OK - rant over.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Our fire was caused by tile installers, so it was a liability issue. We decided to work with our insurance carrier as they would subrogate with the two liablity carriers as each of the two tile layers had their own insurance carrier. So three insurance companies were involved in the process. The tile layers liablity carriers then tried to get the store that sold them the glue that caused the fire to take the rap (or part of the rap) for selling the tile layers the flammable glue that started the fire. So then four insurance companies would have been involved. But, their attorneys were too sharp to allow this to happen. Convoluted? You bet.

We thought it would be to our advantage to work with our own company since we had replacement coverage and the liability carrier of course would not have "replacement" coverage. This is all beside the point.

Again, you were the exception and not the rule. We had been married 22 years and had never had one claim--period. We had more than adequate coverage on a beautiful home that was almost paid off. It didn't matter. We could tell we were in trouble from the get go. You seem to infer that only those who are negligent re: their coverage are the homeowners that are not satisfied with their treatment by their insurance companies following a claim.

I hope you are as lucky next time as you were this time. Actually I hope there is not a next time as you are probably in the insurance company's little data bank now for homes with past water damage.

Kailuamom--Good for you for advocating for your clients as an agent. As for us--our agent washed his hands of us within a day or two of our fire. He had no real power or authority to intervene for us in any way.

Rant over.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 2:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks - Just so you know, I'm not an agent. I work for an insurance company and agents are my customers. Agents can work with the company to help resolution. I see the good and the bad every day. I have been in the business for 20+ years and have seen thousands of these claims. I get involved when one of my clients doesn't like how their client (consumer) is being treated and I have to go to the claims management to get the claim cleaned up. I have always worked for the best Insurance companies and I see what happens as a result of how the adjusters are "graded" and how much work they have on their desks. The consumer definately needs an advocate. If your agent doesn't do it then you need an independent adjuster. Here's the thing with them though - they need to be paid. So - if you have an agent who is doing the job properly, you really don't want to pay someone else to do the same thing.

Red Lover - FYI, the liability coverage from the other party is likely to provide broader coverage than your homeowners policy would. Liability should "make you whole" as is defined by law. Your homeowner policy isn't required to do that. (for instance if your coverage was 100,000 and the loss was 2,000,000 their liability coverage would pay the whole thing. Your homeowner coverage would only be required to pay 100,000).

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a situation with water damage, and I am getting a check valve to prevent sewer backups. Dont know the details of what type etc., as yet.

But what is a water valve ? Any other protection devices against water damage I would welcome.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 3:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, what a great post and replies.

If your claim is large you should call on the services of an independent adjuster. If, however, your insurance agent is fighting for you than that may be all you need.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vancouver Restoration Contractor

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 11:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am a Public Insurance Adjuster in the state of Florida. We handle these types of claims and situations all the time. Sadly, it seems to be standard in the industry for insurance companies to only offer to replace some of the lower cabinetry - completely ignoring any matching issues.

Kitchen claims can be some of the largest claims that can be made in a home and can range anywhere from just a few thousand to over 100k very easily.

If you would like to get a fair settlement on your claim you should probably consider hiring a Licensed Public Insurance Adjuster in your home state. Most good public insurance adjusters can double or even triple an initial offer by an insurance company. Since Public Adjusters work for a percentage of the additional money they are able to collect for you, there is nothing to lose.

For a nationwide list of public insurance adjusters go to

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Consumer Claim Assistance

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I second the recommendation to hire an independent insurance adjuster. You don't pay up front, but rather you pay 10% of your settlement. If you don't come out on top, you pay nothing. So it's in their best interest to get you as much $$$$$ as possible. My friend hired one after a fire, and they fared very well. The house was basically brand new when they were done and they had money left over.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

kailuamom said: Keepin mind your adjusters performance at work is graded on how quickly they close claims and for how much. (good grade for less bad grade for more)

and, of Allstate:

They ALWAYS decline and lowball 1st and make you get a lawyer.

I have worked in the claims side of the property and casualty insurance industry for over 20 years, and can tell you that I've honestly never seen anything in action that even resembles a practice like the first quote. I've never worked for Allstate, but I'd ask that you consider this quote relative to all of this other advice that you're getting. They "ALWAYS" make you get a lawyer? America has an overabundance of lawyers, but we'd run out in a hurry if every one of the claims that Allstate handles required attorney representation.

For some reason, everybody seems to think that they're an expert on insurance claims. I'm sorry to hear of the damage that gave rise to your claim. If your company doesn't meet the obligations that it has to you, I hope that you pursue them relentlessly, because they do damage to the reputation of my industry. But I must say that I go to work every day and find myself surrounded by professional, caring people who try to do their best for our policyholders, and who genuinely feel a sense of personal satisfaction and reward because their job involves helping people in distress. Those statements aren't true of everyone in my line of work, but they're true of a lot more than you'd think reading this thread.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 10:24PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Why is a backsplash so hard to choose?
Got the counters in place my Taj Mahal...
Can you look at my kitchen layout and tell me what I'm missing?
Sorry I posted this once previously, but I wanted to...
Looking for stainless steel sink recommendations
Hey GW - I am looking for a single bowl SS sink for...
Kitchen design assistance - Small kitchen
I have a 12x13 foot kitchen with way too many entry...
WAC vs. Seagull vs. Kichler or what else - "best" LED UCL
can someone please help/advise i feel like a fish out...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™