Will My Homeowners Insurance Pay for the Floor to Be Replaced?

A house without a floor isn't much use to anyone. If your floor has a gaping hole in it, however, that doesn't guarantee your homeowners insurance will pay to fix or replace it. The coverage for any given claim depends on the policy terms, the amount of your coverage and the nature of the damage. In some cases, homeowners insurance won't help at all.

Protection

Most homeowners insurance policies probably provide either "HO-2" or "HO-3" coverage. An HO-2 policy insures your building, including the floor, against 13 different threats, including fire, cars or planes hitting the house, a pipe or water heater rupturing and accidental electrical discharge. Damage isn't covered if the cause isn't on the list. With HO-3, you're protected against loss and damage from any source that isn't specifically excluded in the policy. HO-6 policies for condo owners provide coverage equivalent to an HO-2.

Exclusions

No matter whether you have HO-2, HO-3 or HO-6, some types of damage your policy won't cover. Floor damage from flooding is only covered if you have flood insurance. The insurance industry defines flooding as damage caused by water after it touches the ground, as opposed to damage from a bursting pipe or rain coming through your roof. Earthquake coverage requires an earthquake policy. Homeowners insurance also won't cover floor replacement if the damage is due to lack of maintenance, ordinary wear and tear or termites.

Coverage

If your policy covers the damage to your floor, the next question is how much money you can collect. When you took out your policy, you paid for a certain level of insurance: Your policy will pay up to the maximum coverage, minus your deductible. If you bought an "actual cash value" policy, that's an exception: These policies are cheaper, but they only cover the original cost of the floor, less depreciation from age, which may not pay for a new floor. Replacement-value policies provide more coverage.

Considerations

If you have to move out until the new floor is in place, most homeowners policies cover emergency living expenses such as hotel bills and restaurant meals. There's a limit to how much your insurer will reimburse you for, so keep your expenses under the maximum. Homeowners insurance also pays for contents damage: If a truck hits your house and caves in the upper floor, your policy pays to replace furniture, appliances and other items destroyed in the collapse.

About the Author

Author of two film reference books, "Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan" and "The Wizard of Oz Catalog." Published in Air & Space, Backpacker, Newsweek, The Writer, and multiple trade journals (can fax samples if requested, don't have them available digitally)