I suspect there are guidelines that insurance adjusters are required to follow, a little dance that will convince us we won some kind of huge victory over the huge impersonal insurance company corporate bureaucracy.
He showed up early for our appointment, a half-hour before my wife was due to arrive. He worked quickly, and then attempted to lowball me by claiming there wasn’t much “visible damage.” I pointed out that due to standing water that had since been dried up by the dehumidifiers, the mold very likely extended behind and under the cabinets, where it was not visible.
I was prepared to argue with him all day, and he could tell I wasn’t backing down. Plus, he was aware that any minute, my wife was going to arrive and he’d be double-teamed. He thought about it for a very short time and said, “You’re right, the cabinets should come out. But they’ll be destroyed if they’re removed, so we’ll have to replace the lower cabinets and the countertop.”
“And the upper cabinets,” I said. “We can’t match them, so you have to replace the whole set.”
“I’ll have to review your policy,” he replied. “But I’m pretty sure we don’t cover the whole set if only a portion is damaged. I’ll work on the estimate and get back to you.” With that, he left.
When my wife arrived, she was not happy to hear the news. “Where are we going to find cabinets to match? We’ll have to pay for upper cabinets ourselves!” Just as she was working herself into a rant, the phone rang. It was the adjuster, who told me that he normally works on Commercial policies, which only cover replacement of damaged units. Homeowner’s polices, he told me, do cover replacing an entire set. So we stuck it to The Man. But later that afternoon, The Man stuck it to us.
I had to return to the office, but my wife stayed home to meet the Water Damage team who was planning to remove the big dehumidifiers and the Air Scrubbers we had been living with for days. But the adjuster had called them, and told them to pull the cabinets.
When they showed up, they immediately began ripping out our kitchen. They found large patches of mold under the cabinets, as predicted, and treated it with a chemical. They removed the dehumidifiers, but left us with two very loud Air Scrubbers to catch any stray mold spores. I have no idea how long we’ll have to live with these God-awful things.
That evening, when I arrived home, I found our kitchen sink sitting on the floor of the garage, next to the unused croquet set that can be found in every American garage.
We now have no kitchen. We’ll be eating out for at least a month. The good news is, a friend at work told me that the insurance company is obligated to reimburse us for our meals until we can replace the kitchen. I haven’t confirmed that yet with the insurance company, but if it’s true, we’re going to become regular customers at the local steakhouse. Sticking it to The Man!