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Karl Newman, President
Darrin Sanger, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council
Phone: (800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975

Flood recovery: what do do now

SEATTLE - Floodwaters may be receding, but the hardships are far from over for many displaced Western Washington residents. As people return to their flood-ravaged homes and businesses, they're left with the daunting task of recovering from some of the worst flooding in recent years.

Recovery can be a difficult process. If you have Flood Insurance, however, your damaged property is covered up to the policy limits you purchased under the National Flood Insurance Program (

Standard Homeowners and Business insurance policies don't cover losses due to flooding. Flood Insurance can only be purchased through NFIP, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Mudslide and landslide are specifically excluded from standard Homeowners and Business Owners insurance policies. Those who want coverage for landslides or mudslides can purchase a Difference in Conditions policy through a surplus lines carrier. Coverage for mudflow - defined as a moving river of mud - is available as part of a Flood Insurance policy.

NW Insurance Council, the Institute for Business & Home Safety and NFIP offer the following recovery tips to help you get back on your feet in the days ahead:

  • Standard Homeowners and Business insurance policies generally don't cover losses due to flooding. Flood Insurance can only be purchased through NFIP, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • If your home, apartment or business has suffered damage that exceeds your deductible amount, call the insurance company or agent who handles your flood insurance policy right away to file a claim.
  • Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Don't go in if there is any chance of the building collapsing.
  • Upon entering the building, do not use matches, cigarette lighters or any other open flames, since flooding may have damaged your gas lines and gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a flashlight to light your way.
  • Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
  • Floodwaters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms and factories. If your home has been flooded, protect your family's health by cleaning up your house right away. Throw out foods and medicines that may have come into contact with contaminated water.
  • Until local authorities proclaim your water supply safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation for five minutes before using.
  • Be careful walking around. After a flood, steps and floors are often slippery with mud and covered with debris, including nails and broken glass.
  • Remove as much standing water as possible from inside your home or business.
  • Ventilate your home or business with fans and/or dehumidifiers.
  • Take steps to reduce your risk of future floods. Make sure to follow local building codes and ordinances when rebuilding, and use flood-resistant materials and techniques to protect yourself and your property from future flood damage.

For more information about Flood Insurance, contact your insurance company or agent, or call NFIP at (888-FLOOD29) or visit For free copies of brochures titled Are You Ready? Preparing Your Family, Home & Business for the Next Disaster and Things You Should Know About Flood Insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.