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Maintaining a home

Your flood recovery guide

15 February 2021

Floods can be dangerous and damaging. Being prepared, and knowing what to do afterwards, is essential to a straightforward recovery.

For more info about preparing for flood, visit our Extreme Weather hub or download our helpful flood checklist.

Ensure your safety

Extreme weather events and natural disasters, such as floods, can be traumatising. If you’ve been affected, prioritise taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Suncorp Client Manager Shona Dallon stresses the importance of this. “Ensure you’re safe and that you have somewhere to stay, as temporary accommodation can run out quickly,” she said.

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 have declared your area safe.

When it’s safe to return, you’ll need to have 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 rubber-soled boots, long-sleeved tops and pants, 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 are extremely dangerous. Consult with an electrician before turning anything on. Your home’s structural integrity may also be compromised. It’s important to move around slowly and use your torch to inspect for damage.

Document water damage for insurance purposes

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

“The most useful thing is to have a spreadsheet or list of all the items that you’d like to make a claim on. If you can, you’ll need to provide photographs of these items and the damage they’ve sustained. Don’t just take photos of the damage — we need to understand whether a table leg belongs to a two- or eight- seater table, for example,” 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.

Shona continues: “When you make a claim, you’ll need to provide enough information to prove that the item was damaged in the event and evidence that it justifies the compensation you’re seeking. I find it easy to establish that people have standard items at home, such as a bed, fridge or washing machine, however there are vast differences in the quality of these items and this can be hard to prove if the items have already been disposed of and there are no photos of them or other evidence of ownership.”

“If you aren’t able to provide sufficient proof of loss, you risk having your claim turned down.”

She also warns against the temptation to exaggerate your losses: “As an insurance provider, we need to be sure that we are providing assistance to customers with genuine losses because we only have limited resources.”

Lodging your claim

“Lodge your claim as soon as possible,” Shona says. “It means we’re able to make sure we’ve got enough support on the ground to assist with your claim. If you lodge a few weeks’ late, our repairers may have already packed up and moved on to the next affected area. This may delay repairs to your home, which can cause further damage as mould sets in.”

If you’re a Suncorp Insurance customer, you can lodge your claim 24/7:

Once you’ve lodged your claim, an assessor may be in touch to arrange a time to visit your home and inspect the damages.

Tips for managing the clean up

  • Before you use tap water for any purpose, be sure it’s safe to drink.
  • You may find it useful to approach one room at a time. If you’re able to, open doors and windows to help with the drying process (which may take a few weeks). If mould develops, it can be tricky to manage and may even lead to health issues.
  • Consult with an expert tradie to remove any debris or mud that’s accumulated under your house.
  • Clean furniture outside and allow it to air out. You could also seek support from a professional cleaner if required.
  • Disinfect floors, walls and other surfaces. Pay particular attention to areas that are within reach of children.
  • Discard of and replace any items, such as carpet or mattresses, that have been wet through. Other items that can be cleaned, such as bedding, need to be dried beforehand.
  • Know if 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.

How Suncorp Insurance can support you

“Working through the Townsville floods was one of the most rewarding times I have had in my position to date. I’d be in tears of sympathy with one customer, and then laughing and making jokes about crocodiles in portable toilets with the next,” Shona said. “I always make time to speak with my clients, so they feel supported.”

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 let us know about your situation, we may — in certain circumstances — 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. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. 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 information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.