Article by David Selter
When a homeowner faces a flooded house due to a broken water line or sewage backup, they must decide whether to pay out-of-pocket for restoration or file an insurance claim. It’s often mistakenly believed that if restoration costs are close to or slightly exceed the deductible, it’s better not to file a claim. However, this can be problematic as the full extent of the damage might not be immediately apparent, potentially leading to higher costs. Additionally, the cost of reconstructing unsalvageable materials isn’t usually included in initial estimates.
Damage that seems minor at first can quickly escalate. Water can spread under walls, be absorbed by building materials, and affect cabinetry, especially if exterior walls are involved. This might necessitate more extensive demolition, including the removal of wet insulation. Kitchen cabinets on exterior walls may need to be taken out if the insulation can’t be dried. Even seemingly dry hardwood floors might later show warping, cupping, or delamination, necessitating removal. The homeowner’s policy also covers damage to personal belongings from water exposure, falling wet drywall, or high humidity.
Beyond these immediate concerns, there’s also the cost of rebuilding and replacing removed materials and items. In even a small water incident, baseboards and possibly drywall will need removal and replacement. New paint on baseboards may not match the older paint, leading to a need for repainting the entire room. Any wet drywall may weaken, requiring repairs. The cost of rebuilding can significantly exceed initial loss estimates; for instance, a $5,000 water loss might lead to an additional $15,000 in reconstruction costs. Special considerations, like the potential cracking of granite countertops during removal, can add to expenses.
Therefore, when weighing the options between paying cash for water damage restoration or filing an insurance claim, it’s important to consider the potential for more extensive damage, inspect personal belongings for harm, and remember that removal necessitates replacement. Generally, unless the water damage is exceptionally minor, the costs are likely to surpass the deductible.