Water damage : how to react ? What to do ?

It is one of the most common claims among individuals, and unfortunately very often a source of significant damage to the floor, furniture and surrounding household appliances. Poor workmanship, infiltration, winter frost, poor maintenance of pipes, etc. The causes can be diverse, but the conclusion is the same: we must act urgently!

Tenant or owner: who manages?

The management of the disaster is the responsibility of the person who insures the accommodation, therefore of the person who lives there. In the case of rented accommodation, it is up to the tenant to call in a plumber and report the loss to his own insurer.

Still in the case of rental, the owner may be implicated if the expert appointed by the insurer notes the obsolescence of equipment provided by the owner, or any other lack of maintenance or necessary repair that would not not in the obligations of the tenant. In this case, the latter may ask the owner to reimburse the delta remaining at his expense.

How to act quickly and efficiently?

Hurry up ! The flow, depending on its intensity, can quickly have significant consequences on your home. If it occurs upstairs, the ceiling on the ground floor could experience mold in the short term, the household appliances affected by the leak could give up the ghost, your floor could absorb water and swell or mold. In short, every second saved will save your interior, so here’s how to act most effectively against water damage.

Locate the cause of the disaster

Initially, it is not a question of understanding from which device or installation the leak comes from, but simply of identifying whether the cause comes from your home or not. In a building, for example, it can come from neighboring accommodation and damage your interior. If the incident does not come from your accommodation and you manage to identify where it comes from, you will have to try to contact the neighbor in question, or failing that, the co-ownership trustee. As a last resort, the fire brigade can be called for this type of intervention. The primary goal is to stop the water!

Shut off the water supply

Before anything else, if the disaster comes from your home, you will have to cut off the water, or even the electricity if the damage is very important, for two reasons: the first, that of protecting you. Let’s not forget that water and household appliances do not mix! Better to avoid over-accident. The second is to limit more damage to your interior. As long as we don’t know the exact cause of the disaster, let’s be cautious.

Secure, mop up, ventilate

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves! Start by moving your furniture and other affected item or too close to the leak so as not to risk further damage. Then blot and dry anything that has been touched, then let the room air out so that permeable surfaces can dry out. Drying is very important to avoid the appearance of mold due to surfaces that are too loaded with humidity, and to keep a home in good condition. Feel free to turn up the heat to speed up drying.

Call a plumber

He will move in emergency for this type of damage. The plumbing professional will certainly be able to find the cause of the disaster and thus put you in safety, even by means of temporary repairs.

Photograph the damage

You must keep track of the damage suffered by photographing the condition of all your damaged property. All the photos as well as proof of the plumber’s intervention will be the components of your file with your insurer to consider compensation. Note, although during major disasters, it would be tempting to get rid of damaged goods or equipment that has given up the ghost, but this is a mistake. It is likely that your insurer will request the passage of an expert who, as its name suggests, will come to assess the cost of the damage before considering your compensation. If the assets are no longer present, compensation may be more difficult to obtain.

What procedure with my insurer?

The management of the crisis having passed, now comes the time of the declaration of loss to your insurer, which must be made within 5 working days after the observation of the incident. Rest assured, water damage insurance is one of the mandatory elements of any multi-risk home insurance.

The declaration of loss

Three scenarios can exist:

  • The origin of the water damage comes from your home, which is the only one damaged : In this case, a simple letter or e-mail declaration on honor, accompanied by the photos taken and the plumber’s certificate of intervention will be enough to start the process;
  • The origin of the water damage comes from your accommodation and has damaged at least one neighboring accommodation or common areas : In this case, the declaration will be more complex. In addition to the aforementioned documents, you will have to produce as many joint reports as there are parties concerned. On each of the reports must stipulate the contact details of each of the parties, the circumstances and the presumed causes of the claim, as well as the references of the home insurance contracts for the connection of the insurers;
  • The origin of the water damage comes from the exterior parts and have degraded your home : In the latter case, you must send your insurer the elements mentioned in the first point, as well as the corresponding section of the joint report completed with the person responsible for the claim.


Upon receipt of your water damage report, your insurer will in most cases request an expert opinion before proposing repair and compensation solutions (when the value of the damage represents more than €1,600). If you have kept the invoices for the degraded elements, you will have to provide them to the expert who will need to have as many elements as possible in order to adjust his analysis as well as possible, and this in your own interest.

The compensation proposal

After expertise and confirmation of the damage, your insurer can offer you three options, which can sometimes be combined:

  • The intervention of one or more professionals to restore damaged items. It can be a painter, a roofer, a tiler, a plumber, an electrician, a heating engineer, etc. according to the damage suffered;
  • Reimbursement of expenses if the repair and restoration work has been undertaken and carried out by you;
  • Claims compensation on the basis of the invoices provided, the damage suffered, the age of your equipment, and the terms of your insurance contract.

A point of precision about the nature of the damage covered by multi-risk home insurance in the case of water damage: Be aware that compensation is only concerned with damage resulting from leaks, rupture of pipes or overflow. All other causes of this type of loss are excluded.

Prevention: how to detect the beginnings of a water leak?

Very often, during water damage, the victim says he is “not really surprised” because certain signs may have already alerted him. Here are some warnings to take into account to avoid the disaster.

Watch out for traces of moisture

It is important to never overlook the appearance of mold, fungus, blisters, or peeling paint on the walls or ceilings. When it becomes visible, it means that the surface is already deeply attacked. Traces of moisture can be a sign of an invisible water leak. Even minimal, it can cause heavy damage, not to mention the water bill which is high enough without wasting m3.

Test the water meter

Here is a very simple trick to check the presence of water leaks. Just raise the water meter then turn off the water when you go to bed. The next morning, if your meter shows a different water consumption than the day before, it means that there is a leak somewhere. Call a plumber to repair or seal the leak.

Leave a Comment