How Do I Start My Flood Claim?

Español: ¿Cómo someto mi reclamación al seguro contra inundación?

This page explains the claims process and steps to follow as you start your National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claim and work with your adjuster and agent. The more you know, the smoother the process will go.

More information about the claims process is available in these products that can be printed out and shared, Starting Your Recovery: FEMA's Flood Insurance Claims Process and How to File a Claim (infographic).

The Flood Insurance Claims Process

STEP 1: Contact your insurance agent or company to report your flood loss. Your flood insurance policy requires you to give prompt written notice of your loss. Generally, your adjuster will contact you within 24-48 hours after you report your claim. However, depending on local conditions and the severity of flooding, it may take more time. When reporting the claim ask about getting an Advance Payment to help you start recovering. Advance payments are deducted from the final claim payment.

How Do I Contact My Insurance Company? Find the toll-free phone number for your insurance company. If you need help finding your insurance carrier, please call the NFIP Call Center, at 1-800-427-4661. Representatives at the Call Center can tell you who your insurance provider is and how to contact them, if you're not sure, as well as answer other questions you may have.
Hurricane Florence Information

 Be ready to provide this information when reporting your claim:

  • The name of your insurance company;
  • Your policy number; and
  • A phone number and/or e-mail address where you can be reached.
  • The name of any mortgage company(s) (applicable if the insureed property is mortgaged)

STEP 2: Prepare for Your Inspection
Before entering, make sure it’s safe to re-enter the building. Take photographs and videos of the damaged property, including items you plan to discard. As much as possible, your photos and videos should document the structural damage; standing floodwater levels (both inside and outside); and damage to appliances, furniture and other items before moving, removing or discarding anything. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate.

  •  For items like washers and dryers, hot water heaters, kitchen appliances, televisions, and computers, make sure you take a photograph of the make, model, and serial number.
  • For your building items, keep some samples (swatches) and also photograph items like water-damaged carpet (and or other flooring), wallpaper, and drapes before disposing of them so you can show them to your adjuster during the inspection.
  • Immediately throw away flooded content items that pose a health risk, such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions, pillows, etc. after photographing them.
  • Contact repair services if the building’s electrical, water, or HVAC systems are damaged. It’s important to consult your adjuster or insurance company before you sign any agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation, or maintenance contractor.
  • Contact your community building department and floodplain administrator to get information about:
    • Whether your property was substantially damaged;
    • Tips on how to better protect or repair your home; and
    • Obtaining a building permit. This is a very important thing to do so you build or repair in compliance with local ordinances.

NOTE: Flood loss avoidance is a protective action you take to minimize flood damage and losses to your buildings and personal property before a flood occurs. So speak with your claims adjuster if you took loss-avoidance measures. National Flood Insurance Program policies will cover up to $1,000 in reasonable expenses incurred to protect your insured property, and up to $1,000 to move your insured property away from a flood or imminent danger of a flood.

STEP 3: Work with Your Adjuster
When your claims adjuster arrives, they should show you their official identification (Driver’s License and Company ID or Flood Control Number [FCN card]). They should also provide you with their contact information, such as their name, email, phone number, and the name of their adjusting firm, and their telephone number.  When meeting with you, your adjuster should cover the following:

  • An explanation of the NFIP Flood Claims Process.
  • An inspection of your property—during which he/she will scope your loss by taking measurements and photos.
  • An explanation of what an advance payment is and how or if you can get one.
  • Information about how you should present your loss to your insurance company and a discussion about your policy coverage.

Other things to know, do and or discuss with your adjuster:

  • The insurance carrier, not the adjuster, has the authority to approve your claim.
  • If you haven't already done so, ask the adjuster about getting an Advance Payment to help you start recovering.
  • Be sure to provide your current mailing address and phone number if you are displaced.
  • Ask your adjuster about Increased Cost of Compliance.
  • The adjuster should never ask you for money or collect your deductible amount.

At the end of your inspection, your adjuster should provide you with information about what you need to do and what will happen next.

STEP 4: Document your Loss and Receive Payment
Your adjuster will help you document your flood damage for the claim. Here are some things you can do to support the claims process so it goes smoothly:

  • Speak with your agent about your insurance policy, what it covers and read the Claims Handbook.
  • Provide the photos and videos of your flood loss to your adjuster. It can be helpful to organize these by room.

The adjuster will work with you to submit an estimate of your flood loss. Be sure you ask your insurance company about any important deadlines you need to meet. This will help ensure you receive a claim payment that reflects your flood loss, within your policy limits.

Clean-up and Mold: Your Responsibilities

Please note that it is your responsibility to do all you can to prevent the growth and spread of mold. Learn about clean-up and mold remediation. NFIP flood insurance policies will not cover mold damage if a policyholder fails to take action to prevent the growth and spread of mold.

In some instances, it’s just not possible for a policyholder to get to the property and clean up and remove the mold. The damage may be covered when:

  • A legally authorized official has banned entrance into the area (possibly as a result of downed trees, downed power lines, washout/destruction of roadways, and any other reason the official may restrict entrance); and or
  • Floodwaters remain around the home or in the area impeding the policyholder’s ability to inspect and maintain the insured property.

Register for Disaster Assistance

In addition to filing a flood claim, when there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration you’re encouraged to register for Federal disaster assistance by calling toll-free 800-621-3362 (800-462-7585 TTY), or by applying online at Disaster assistance may be available for things like Additional Living Expenses that are not covered by your policy.

Before and as you Make Repairs and Purchases 

  • Obtain a building permit before making structural repairs. This is a very important thing to do so you build or repair in compliance with local ordinances.
  • Keep receipts and photos of replaced or repaired property in case you flood again and have another claim.

Your Property May be Visited by Multiple Officials

Learn about various visitors who may come to your property after a flood, in Who’s Knocking at Your Door? Keep the following in mind:

  • More than one insurance claim adjuster may visit your property. Adjusters are trained to distinguish the cause of specific damage to your home if you had multiple causes of loss (for example, flood & wind or flood & fire).
  • If your adjuster has questions about complicated damage, they may request assistance from an engineer or other experts. These experts can help determine the cause and extent of damage.
  • Your adjusters may need to consult with each other during the adjustment of your claims. If they determine you had multiple causes for your damage, you will have to go through more than one claims processes because you are dealing with two or more policies which cover different perils.

Additional Helpful Resources

Still Need Help?

Visit FEMA's Got a Problem? webpage.

Last updated