Water damage: how to react? What to do ?

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

Tenant or owner: who manages?

The management of the claim is the responsibility of the person providing the accommodation, and therefore of the person who lives there. In the case of rental accommodation, it is up to the tenant to call in a plumber and to report the damage to his own insurer.

Also in the case of rental, the owner may be questioned if the expert appointed by the insurer finds the obsolescence of equipment provided by the owner, or any other lack of maintenance or necessary repair that does not come into play. not in the obligations of the tenant. In this case, the latter can ask the owner for the reimbursement of the delta remaining at his expense.

How to act quickly and efficiently?

Hurry up ! The flow, depending on its intensity, can quickly have major consequences on your home. If it occurs upstairs, the ceiling on the ground floor could experience short-term mold, the household appliance affected by the drain could give up the ghost, your floor could absorb water and swell or mold. In short, every second saved will spare your interior, so here’s how to deal with water damage the most effectively.

Locate the cause of the disaster

First, it is not a question of understanding which device or installation the leak is coming from, but simply to identify whether the cause comes from your home or not. In building for example, it can come from the neighboring housing and come to degrade your interior. If the incident does not come from your home 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 manager. As a last resort, firefighters can be called in for this type of intervention. The main goal is to stop the water!

Cut 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 serious, for two reasons: the first, that of protecting you. Let’s not forget that water and household appliances don’t mix! Better to avoid the accident. The second is to limit more damage to your interior. As long as we don’t know the exact cause of the loss, let’s be cautious.

Secure, mop, ventilate

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves! Start by moving your furniture and other items that are affected or too close to the leak so as not to risk further damage to them. Then blot and dry anything that has been touched, then allow the room to ventilate so permeable surfaces can dry out. Drying is very important to avoid the appearance of mold due to surfaces too loaded with humidity, and to maintain housing in good condition. Do not hesitate to increase the heating to speed up drying.

Call a plumber

He will move urgently for this type of damage. The plumbing professional will undoubtedly know how to find the cause of the loss and thus put you in safety, even by means of temporary repairs.

Photograph the damage

Keep track of the damage suffered by photographing the condition of all your damaged goods. All the photos as well as the proof of the plumber’s intervention will be the constituent elements 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 died, but this is a mistake. It is likely that your insurer will ask for the passage of an expert who, as the 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 to file a claim with your insurer, which must be done within 5 working days of the incident being noticed. Rest assured, water damage insurance is one of the compulsory elements of any comprehensive home insurance.

The claim declaration

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 of declaration on the honor, accompanied by the photographs taken and the certificate of intervention of the plumber will be enough to start the process;
  • The origin of the water damage comes from your accommodation and 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 amicable reports as there are parties concerned. On each of the observations must stipulate the contact details of each of the parties, the circumstances and the presumed causes of the loss, as well as the references of the home insurance contracts for the connection of insurers;
  • The origin of the water damage comes from the exterior parts and has degraded your home : In the latter case, you must send your insurer the elements mentioned in the first point, as well as the corresponding part of the amicable report completed with the person responsible for the claim.


Upon receipt of your report of water damage, your insurer will in most cases request an expertise 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 have to have as many elements as possible in order to adjust his analysis as best as possible, and this in your own interest.

The compensation proposal

After assessment and confirmation of the damage, your insurer can offer you three options, which can sometimes be combined with one another:

  • The intervention of one or more professionals to restore degraded elements. It could be a painter, a bandeur, a tiler, a plumber, an electrician, a heating engineer, etc. according to the damage suffered;
  • Reimbursement of costs if the repair and restoration work has been initiated and carried out by you;
  • Compensation for the incident 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 clarification about the nature of the damage covered by the comprehensive home insurance in the case of water damage: Be aware that the compensation only concerns damage resulting from leaks, broken pipes or overflow. All other causes of this type of disaster are excluded.

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

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

Watch out for traces of humidity

It is important to never overlook the appearance of mold, fungus, blisters, or crumbling paint on walls or ceilings. When this becomes visible, it means that the surface is already attacked at depth. 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 large enough without wasting m3.

Test the water meter

Here’s a simple trick to checking for water leaks. You just have to read the water meter and 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.