Flooded Floors Check List - Dealing With Insurance

My first home was a condo with a dark oil finished engineered wood floor. The home was mostly modern décor. Several years after the floors were installed I was watching sports in the living room when my wife asked me why it sounds like there is a squishy sound on the wood floor. Turns out it was a flooded floor...This caught my attention right away. I decided to pause the game to see if we could replicate the issue. Some water even seeped out from the edges of each plank and I knew something was wrong. Upon further inspection, the leak came from the air conditioner unit in the utility closet. Something so small such as a pebble can cause so much damage! It turns out this small pebble plugged the condensation drip tube causing water to overflow for several weeks if not longer before enough water accumulated for us to notice.

After the pebble was removed and the air conditioner was working properly it was time to air out the concrete subfloors. Beneath the flooring, we used Floor Muffler, a padded acoustical underlayment which is a requirement by many condominiums for sound reduction purposes. This pad served as a barrier and reduced the amount of moisture soaking into my wood floors. I started by taking up the baseboards along the wall and each plank one at a time while saving the planks which were still in good shape.

The Insurance Company

In the morning I made a phone call to my insurance company to explain the situation. Upon gathering some basic information the insurance phone rep reassured me that they will send a claims adjuster for a site visit to gather additional information. Looking back, the one thing I should have done was to review my insurance policy to find out my deductible before filing a claim. If your deductible is close to the maximum cost of the damage, you might consider just paying out-of-pocket rather than risk being put into a high-risk bracket by contacting your insurance company.

Luckily for me, my deductible was low and the payout was high. When the claims adjuster stopped by I was almost excited to tell him all about my floors and the cause of damaged, square footage, and all the labor involved. The claims adjuster measured the area and took a sample back to the lab for an appraisal and let me know they will be in touch with more information.

Remember, when replacing a wood floor you want to make sure to account for the cost of several things. Demolition, installation, baseboards, underlayment, and transition moldings. In the case of your floor having been discontinued, it is important to replace the entire area with the same wood floor and not just the damaged area. For example, if you have an open concept living room/kitchen with all wood floors throughout, your insurance should replace both areas to restore the home back to the original look.

The Settlement

After a few days, I received the information promised with the flooring and general labor costs. Being a floor guy, I was a bit of a harsh critic. First of all, the replacement was for a laminate floor which is generally valued on average ~2.00 per square foot lower than an average engineered hardwood, honest mistake. Secondly, there was no underlayment ~0.50 per square foot which would need to be replaced. After I nicely pointed out the difference we were able to get everything taken care of and I received a nice check to cover the cost of replacement, however, this made me wonder how many fellow Americans might have missed out on some of these fairly significant details? The area I replaced was about 900 square feet and the difference came out to more than $2000 dollars. How would you like being stuck paying for that on top of all the cleaning you'll have to do?

If you ever have a squishy wet floor first look up your deductible and determine the magnitude of the damage. If you're not sure of the cost look for an old invoice or give me a call. After you decide to get insurance involved, make a mental checklist of the areas affected and replacement costs. It might be difficult to value a discontinued floor. After all even professionals at the lab can get it wrong. Your floor guy can help you with product identification. You can even reach out to me if you have no idea the value of your floors. Contact us here or call.