Isabel and I recently had an insurance claim on our home, and while I don’t yet fully understand the mistakes we made and the way it should have gone, I want to share our experience in hopes that if you have an insurance claim, you’ll have the information that we learned first hand throughout ours. 

A couple of months ago, our laundry room upstairs flooded and began pouring water into our downstairs through the ceiling. It was a simple plumbing mistake, so I’ll spare you the details and get straight to the claim. 

Since water was involved, our first concern was the insulation getting mold, so we wanted to start repairs right away. Basically, we needed to open up the ceiling on the main level, and the floor on the upper level, and remove and replace the insulation. I called my insurance broker and asked if we can go ahead and have our contractor get started, the answer was yes. I believe this was our first mistake. We quickly scheduled a disaster company to have them remove the insulation. 

The first step for insurance was to send out an adjuster, who took a look at the damage, but by the time he arrived a few days later, the disaster company was already finished removing insulation. Our contractor had given us a quote and was ready to begin repairs. We confirmed with the adjuster on site that our contractor could get started adding insulation, redoing the drywall, and replacing the tile in the bathroom and that all sounded fine. 

Within a few days our contractor was finished, and the insurance company got back to us with the amount they would be paying out as well as their quote for the work, which was about a third of the cost of the job that we had already paid our contractor out of pocket. We did that because we have a great relationship with him, and we weren’t sure how long it would take insurance to pay. For context, this contractor is the most affordable we have found in our market. The job could have been at least double the cost of what it was had we hired a number of other local contractors we know, so we were very surprised to find that the adjuster felt the job was worth less than half of what we had paid. 

After about a month of negotiating and being passed off to multiple insurance reps, we were told that they have preferred contractors who could have done the work for what they quoted, and we should have used them. We asked those questions in the beginning, but that wasn’t the answer we received. Lesson learned, and now we know that in the future we’ll wait to start repairs on our own and move at the pace of our insurance company. We also may need to reconsider who we are insured with, and I’m sure there are other key takeaways that we haven’t yet processed but will reflect on down the road.

Fortunately, we negotiate for a living and after much back and forth we received about 80% of the cost, so things could have been worse!

I’m writing this for anyone who has yet to experience a fairly large insurance claim, and for anyone who has questions about home ownership that might be related to this – like what additional costs are there to owning a home, what happens when things go wrong, and what am I paying for every month when I pay the insurance bill? These are things you don’t deal with when you rent that take up time and potentially money, but it all comes with the territory of owning a home, and in our experience, the positives still far exceed the negatives.