Here’s What to Do After a Flood (& What You Should Never Do!): Important First Steps

January 27, 2019

Imagine losing your most precious belongings–pictures, documents, and even your family home. This is enough to cause devastation for anyone, but no, we’re not discussing fires or a break in–we’re talking about flooding.

Perhaps you think flooding isn’t something that can happen to you or your family. Maybe you’ve never even thought about what to do after a flood.

Knowing what the risks are is important. Learn more about why you should get prepared, what to do after a flood occurs, and take a peek at a few things you should never do if you want to avoid problems in the long run.

Do Take Pictures of the Damage

One of the first things you need to do after a flood is make a point to take pictures of any and all damage. This includes areas of your home damaged by flood, items ruined by the water, and even the surrounding property.

Make sure to get clear pictures of items damaged and get up close. It’s suggested if you’ve had appliances that were ruined, make a point to get a clear picture of the serial numbers on the machines.

While you might feel disheartened by everything that the flood affected, you’ll know what needs to get replaced. You’ll have an easier time getting the insurance company to work with you too since they have visible proof of what was ruined.

Do Contact Your Insurance Company

After getting proof of the damage, the next item on your agenda is contacting the insurance company. You’ll need to make them aware of what damage and level of flooding you experienced.

Even with documentation, it’s normal to expect a wait. The insurance company usually needs to send someone out to assess the problem.

Talk with the company and find out what the next steps are; let them know if you intend to make repairs, and see if there’s anything you need to hold off on. As tempting as it is to fix the entire house, you’re better off waiting until the insurance company pays you for the damage.

Keep careful records of conversations with your insurance agent so you know what’s going on with your claim.

Do Find Out if You’re Part of a Disaster Area

If a natural disaster has occurred and you’ve experienced flooding as a result, there are additional steps to take. Getting proof in the form of photos and contacting your insurance company is still on the to-do list, but check government websites and find out if there are any updates.

FEMA and your local or state government might have additional steps for you to do or other information you can benefit from. If you’re in a disaster area, you might get additional compensation outside of insurance.

Your insurance company might take longer to get to you if they’re dealing with other folks who have the same problem. Keep this in mind and you’ll have an accurate idea of when to expect assistance.

Do Actively Work to Get Rid of Water Damage

Now that you’ve documented everything, it’s important to get rid of the water damage as quickly as possible. Standing water can create problems that allow mold and mildew to breed and flourish.

According to FEMA, it only takes 24-48 hours for mold to start growing in a flooded area.

While working in water damaged areas, exercise caution. It’s important not to overload yourself with buckets of water as you’re going up and down stairs or through slippery areas.

Getting rid of water damage can help preserve your home, but it’s important to take it slowly.

Don’t Stand Around for Long Periods in Water

You might feel compelled to work until the water is all cleared out. While this sounds like a good idea, in theory, don’t forget to consider your own personal health.

Life after a flood means cleaning up the mess, but floodwater comes with its own set of problems, namely germs. It’s suggested that you wear anything from waders to boots that go up to your hips, along with rubber gloves.

Wash any clothing and shoes that come into contact with flood waters to protect you and your family from getting sick. Don’t work in flood water for longer than six hours at a time; doing so increases your risk of illness and infection.

Throw away any food that came into contact with the flood–at this point, it’s no longer safe to eat.

Don’t Try to Replace Anything Right Away

The urge to get your home back to normal and replace it with new items right away is natural. Many people feel their home needs to go back to as much of its original condition as possible, in order to help them get on with their lives.

While this is true, avoid purchasing new furniture since your home isn’t fully repaired yet. A repeat flood could occur relatively soon.

Because your home isn’t fixed, you could waste even more money with furniture that gets ruined all over again.

While waiting for a fix can seem like it takes a long time, it’s important to have these areas in your house corrected, so you can feel safe before adding new purchases. Before getting new furniture, make a point to have the home cleaned and double-checked for any areas where possible leaks could penetrate.

Learn More About What to Do After a Flood

Dealing with repairing your home after a flood can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure what to do first. By documenting the damage and finding out the next steps, you’ll avoid losing money and can show your insurance company what you lost.

Now that you know what to do after a flood, it’s important to have the right insurance. If you don’t have flood insurance, learn more about the options we offer.

Contact us with any additional questions, and we can help you get the protection you need for your home.


**This blog provides a brief overview of the terms and phrases used within the insurance industry. These definitions are not applicable in all states or for all insurance and financial products. This is not an insurance contract. Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Please read your official policy for full details about coverage. These definitions do not alter or modify the terms of any insurance contract.