Floods can be devastating to people, their property and their communities. Floods are a threat to any place that has rain, not necessarily those designated high-risk flood zones. In fact, more than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the flood zone, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Gallagher is here to help you better understand the risks, and more importantly, help you prepare for any potential floods. Confirm that you have flood insurance coverage as soon as possible, or consider purchasing flood insurance. Below, we outline how to safeguard your property, as well as steps on filing a flood insurance claim with your Gallagher representative.

Before Flood Season Begins: Review your Policies and Coverages

While flood seasons varies between geographical locations and times of the year, it is never too early to consider planning for a flood. To assist you in flood preparedness, we’ve also provided a Flood Preparedness Checklist. You can take the following guidelines to help mitigate the possibility of water damage before a flood occurs.

Did you know?

The average waiting period before flood coverage takes effect is 30 days through NFIP – be sure to make this a part of your pre-planning considerations. Contact your Gallagher advisor for more information.

Pre-Planning: Preparing your Home & Property before a Flood

Floods of any size can affect your home. Here, we outline which steps to take for both the exterior and interior of your home, as well as preparations. If a flood is forecasted as a result of rising waters by a governmental agency, follow the preparation items in the chart below.

  • Shut off water and individual valves. Educate your family members on how to use your water valve and other individual valves for appliances, toilets and sinks for water-related emergency.
  • Inspect your roof for integrity and roof flashing. You need to inspect your roof periodically—particularly after major storms--and contact a roofing professional to fix any problems.
  • Beware of ice damming if you live in an area where that peril presents itself during cold-weather months, particularly if you have an older roof. Adequate ventilation in all attic and overhang areas can help prevent this.
  • Ensure gutters, downspouts and storm drains are free of debris. Water can back up and get into your house if it can’t drain properly.
  • Temporarily shut off your water. Note that shutting off the water supply in cold climates also requires the draining of pipes, which may require the assistance of a plumber.
  • Inspect pipes periodically. If you see corrosion or seepage, contact a professional.
  • Replace and inspect appliance water hoses every three to five years.
  • Inspect water heaters periodically. Puddles around the base of the water heater means it’s time to hire a plumber to inspect it and repair it, which may mean replacing it.
  • Inspect your basement for cracks in the walls and floor. If you store sentimental items in the basement, consider lifting them up off the floor several inches or storing in waterproof bins.
  • Inspect your sump pump annually and consider a battery backup.
  • Organize a disaster supply kit with food, water, medications and first aid supplies.
  • Create an evacuation plan with your family, including alternate routes.
  • Review your insurance policies for adequate coverage. Consider flood insurance if you do not have it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with potential water damage alone. At Gallagher, your risk advisor can assist with an assessment of your home’s water damage vulnerability and available premium discounts for water damage prevention systems.

Flood Preparations and Precautions for your Home

You can take the following guidelines to help mitigate the possibility of water damage before a flood occurs.

  • Secure all loose exterior property that could float away.
  • Secure all windows and doors throughout your property.

  • Turn off utilities at the main switch or valve.
  • Unplug all electronics and appliances.
  • Elevate furniture.
  • Place all valuables, computers and medical supplies in waterproof bags, seal with tape, and move them to the highest point available or to an alternate location.
  • Place critical files and documents in waterproof containers, and label with the property name and address. Relocate them to higher ground or he highest area available.

  • Relocate your family and pets to an upper portion of your home or find higher ground.
  • Ensure you bring your items with you, including cellphones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, battery operated handheld radio(s), flashlights, cameras, additional chargers and batteries, water, food, first aid supplies and additional items from your disaster supply list.
  • Check local emergency broadcast radio for information regarding the flood. Follow guidelines from local authorities.

When driving in an area where flooding may occur or is currently flooding, make sure to avoid:
  • Driving if high water has already made roadways impossible to cross.
  • Rescuing someone by swimming or wading in waters.
  • Crossing water without checking for downed power lines. Listen for humming, which is an indication of electricity. If signs of electricity exist, do not cross water — wait for help.
  • Items traveling downstream – they can trap you in your vehicle if you’re in its path.

Post-Flood Home Inspection Guidelines

After receiving the "all-clear" signal from your local agencies or emergency personnel, you can begin your post-flood measures. Once it’s safe to return to your home, examine the interior and exterior of your property and contact your Gallagher representative about your flood coverage. It’s important that your claim handler receives this information as soon as possible.

Below is a short checklist of what to inspect after returning to your property after a flood.

  • Inspect your property for immediate dangers – watch for animals, particularly snakes, that may have come in with the floodwaters.
  • Take pictures or video of the damage and property.
  • Use flashlights to examine walls, floors, doors and windows to ensure building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Inspect foundation for cracks and other significant damage, paying particular attention to retaining walls.

When inspecting your home, make sure to avoid all areas with flooded electrical circuits and submerged power lines or electrical appliances until the power has been cut. Also, watch for flammable materials in the water such as gas. Try to limit use of cellphones, laptops and hand-held radios to preserve battery life in the event of power failure.

You will also need to contact the following groups after a flood:

  • Emergency services, such as the fire department and gas and electric companies, as necessary based on the review of the property.
  • Vendors, such as cleaning services, biohazard companies, electricians or plumbers, to help reduce further damage to the property that might result from standing water and prevent mosquitoes from developing.

Filing a Home Flood Insurance Claim

You may have suffered damage as a result of the flood. The best way to notify your claim handler of a home flood insurance claim is to immediately and directly report it. It is important that your claim handler receive this information as quickly as possible so they can begin the claim resolution process. If you need assistance reporting your home flood insurance claim, please contact your Gallagher representative.

Claims Contacts for Home & Property

Starting a Home Flood Insurance Claim

In order for a home flood insurance claim to be initiated and an investigation to being, the adjuster must have as much detail as possible. The following is recommended:

  • Photographs and/or video of the damage are extremely helpful.
  • Include a preliminary list of damages.
  • Secure your location(s) to prevent further loss and begin to sort damaged items from undamaged items.

Claims Process for Home Flood Insurance: What to Expect

Throughout the home flood insurance claim investigation process, you may have various coverage-related questions. Please reach out to your Gallagher representative with specific policy and claim questions. During this high-volume claim reporting period, you should anticipate the following:

  • The adjuster assignment and initial contact may take some time. Some insurers may use adjusters under contact rather than staff adjusters, so the adjuster’s contact information may appear different than expected.
  • Access to the affected areas may be limited for quite a great length of time after the floodwaters recede.
  • Competition for labor and materials will be high, which could impact the timeframe and costs associated with repair and remediation.
  • Working with your adjuster closely. If you have questions regarding the resolution process, your Gallagher representative is here to assist and ensure you are in control of the claim progress.

Your insurance company website will contain important information about how to handle claims and manage losses. We have listed many insurance companies in the event you do not have the contact information readily available.

Related Products & Services