What to do before flood

July 19, 2018

Don't wait until waters are rising in your area and flood threatens. Take steps now that will make your life much easier when a flood occurs.


Make sure all the information is correct, including information about your mortgage company. If you have refinanced with a company other than the one shown on your policy, call your insurance agent or company representative immediately.

Prepare Lists and Documentation If you've purchased contents coverage, make it a priority to make a detailed list of your home or business's contents and/or your personal property. Include:

  • Date and place of purchase
  • Model number
  • Serial number (for large appliances)
  • Descriptions
  • Original purchase costs (with receipts, if needed)
  • Photos or video of your home's interior and your personal property


Originals of important insurance papers should be kept in a safe place, preferably in a bank safe deposit box, Be sure your papers include contact information for your agent or company, important receipts, your flood insurance policy and documentation on your personal property and contents of your home. Keep copies in your home or business in the safest, most accessible place possible that is not subject to flooding.

Having this detailed documentation will make filing your claim much easier. If floodwaters actually carry away your property, this list and the photos/receipts will be important to documenting your loss.


Call your insurance agent or company representative and discuss the particular requirements for reporting a flood claim. These can vary from company to company, so knowing how to proceed can save a lot of effort later.

Remember, after a flood it may be difficult to get in touch with your agent or insurance company. Power and phone service may be interrupted, or phone lines may be overwhelmed with other callers. It will benefit you to know just what to do in advance of flooding.


After a flood, you may be unable to stay in your home or to be contacted at your home address and phone number. Share an emergency contact—address and phone number—with your insurance agent and family so you can be reached.


  • When you gather your insurance papers for safekeeping, also gather any other important papers such as deeds or stock certificates that you may be keeping in the house.
  • Since flood insurance expires annually, make it a point to update your documentation and papers at renewal time. Also, call your agent annually to make sure loss reporting procedures have not changed.
  • Move any valuable items out of your basement. Flood insurance only covers certain items normally found in a basement, such as a furnace or water heater. If purchased, there is limited coverage for personal items.
  • Create an emergency kit, with a large flashlight, a battery powered radio, spare batteries, candles, waterproof matches, etc. Even if you never experience a flood, you'll be glad to have this kit in a power outage.
  • If flooding is imminent, the number one rule in a flood is to keep yourself safe.
  • If waters rise in your house before you can leave safely, move to the highest level necessary—even the roof. Take extra clothing, your radio, a flashlight and, if possible food.
  • If you have time, turn off electricity at your breaker or fuse box and close the main gas valve; get valuables (furs, jewelry, important papers) to a higher level; fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with water. (Sanitize tubs and sinks with bleach, rinse and then fill); and bring outdoor possessions (lawn furniture, grills, etc.) inside or tie them down securely.
  • Keep away from downed power lines and any other electrical wires—electrocution is always a major cause of death in foods.

What To Do After A Flood

A flood is an overwhelming experience. But taking quick action will put you back in control of your home and your life.



Contact Your Agent or Company Representative to Report Your Loss: Have ready—the name of your insurance company, policy number and a phone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached. All flood insurance policies require you to give prompt written notice of loss. If you get in touch with your agent or company representative directly, they will advise you how to file your notice of loss. Otherwise, you must send a written notice to your insurance company with your policy number.


Separate Your Property: Your policy also requires you to separate damaged property from undamaged property. Don't throw anything away before an adjuster has seen it, unless local law requires you to. In that case, take photos of the property before disposing of it and keep samples for the adjuster to see. (For example, cut out a piece of wall-to-wall carpet.) Do all you can to protect undamaged property. However, prior to signing an agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation, or maintenance contractor, you should consult with your flood aduster or flood insurer concerning coverage.


Make a List of Damaged Contents: If you've purchased contents coverage, make a list of damaged property. If you prepared comprehensive lists before the flood, this should be relatively easy. List the quantity of each item, a description, brand name, where purchased, its cost, model and serial number (if appropriate) and your estimate of the loss amount. Attach your bills, receipts, photos and any other documents.


List Areas of Structural Damage: As you look over your property, make a list of any areas of structural damage you want to point out to the insurance adjuster.


  • After a flood, even if your house seems safe to enter, be cautious.
  • If you hear hissing or smell gas, leave immediately and call the gas company. Using your home phone or cell phone inside the house could spark an explosion.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system.
  • If sewer and water lines are damaged, don't use toilets or sinks. Call a plumber. Until told the water supply is safe, boil water for 5 minutes before drinking it or preparing food.
  • Throw away water-damaged food, including canned goods.