Maintaining a home

Flood clean-up: The flood recovery guide

19 October 2022

Floods can be dangerous and damaging. But being prepared and knowing what to do afterwards can help make the recovery more straightforward. 

To help you get back on your feet faster, Melissa Callaghan – Suncorp’s Head of Disaster Response & Event Claims – has some advice.

Make sure you’re safe

Extreme weather events and natural disasters, such as floods, can be distressing. If you’ve been affected, prioritise taking care of yourself and your loved ones – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Melissa stresses the importance of this. 

“Ensure you and your loved ones are safe and that you have somewhere to stay,” she said.

“If your home is insured with us and you can’t live in it while it’s being repaired or rebuilt, you can access money through your Temporary Accommodation Benefit to help cover the cost of temporary accommodation for you and your pets.”

If you need a little extra support, take a look at our list of financial and mental healthcare support services.

Re-entering your property

Before you return to your property, wait until emergency services and the relevant electricity, gas, and water authorities have declared your area safe.

When it’s safe to return, you’ll need some safety equipment, such as the following:

  • Protective clothing. It’s important to keep your skin protected when re-entering your home, as floodwater carries bacteria. Wear gumboots, long-sleeved tops, long pants, gloves plus something to protect your eyes.
  • A torch. It can help you to search for snakes, spiders, or other critters that may have taken refuge in your home during the event.

Be aware, electrical items or wiring — whether indoors or out — that have come into contact with mud or water can be extremely dangerous. You may need to consult with an electrician before turning anything on. Your home’s structural integrity may also be compromised. Move around slowly and use your torch to inspect for damage.

Tips for managing the clean up

  • Before you use tap water to drink, be sure it’s safe.
  • If you’re able to, open doors and windows and turn on ceiling fans to help with the drying process, which may take a few weeks. If mould develops, it can be tricky to manage and may lead to health issues.
  • Clean furniture outside and allow it to air out, however if your contents are affected by mould, you may want to get advice from a professional to determine whether it’s salvageable. 
  • If possible, disinfect floors, walls and other surfaces. Pay particular attention to areas that are within reach of children.
  • Talk to our claims team about throwing out items, such as carpet, soft furnishings, or mattresses, that have been wet through. Other items that can be cleaned, such as hard furniture, garden tools etc., need to be dried beforehand.
  • Ensure your sewer line is working before running any appliances that draw water from your mains.
  • Throw out all food items that have come into contact with floodwater, even if they're sealed.

Emergency Management Australia have developed a substantial guide about what to do before, during and after a flood.

Make a list of damaged items

Melissa’s biggest tip for documenting flood damage is to take lots of photographs.

“If you aren’t able to provide sufficient proof of loss, you risk having your claim turned down. So having a list of all the items you’d like to make a claim on – and photographs of these items and the damage they’ve sustained – is incredibly important,” she said.

“If you live in a flood-prone area, try keeping important documents in a portable fire-and water-proof box. You might add your identity documents, manuals, and purchase receipts to it.”

See our guide to creating a home inventory for more information.

Make a claim online

“Lodge your home insurance claim as soon you can,” Melissa says. “This will help to get an assessor or builder out to your home as soon as we can, getting you back on your feet faster.”

“It also means we’re able to organise things like emergency repairs or temporary accommodation for you sooner.”

Make a claim 

If you’re a Suncorp Insurance customer, you can lodge your claim online or via the Suncorp Insurance App 24/7.

Once you’ve lodged your claim, someone from our claims team will be in touch to arrange a time for an assessor or builder to visit your home and inspect the damages.

How Suncorp Insurance can help you

At Suncorp, we’re committed to building resilient communities. We’ve spent over 100 years supporting our customers to prepare their homes, protect their families, and recover from natural disasters. If you’re experiencing financial difficulty as a result of flooding, and you make us aware of your situation, we may agree to:

  • offer instalment payments,
  • delay or extend payment terms, or
  • give you access to our hardship support team.

Visit our Financial Difficulty hub

Read more:

Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Information provided is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision regarding this product. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. The Target Market Determination is also available.