Water damage: what do you need to do?

Water damage can cause many problems, whether it is a leaking pipe or a flood due to heavy rain. In most cases, it can happen very quickly, without our realising the cause of the problem. What to do? Don't panic, but follow these 7 steps.

1. Identify the cause

Look for the cause of the problem and take all necessary measures to limit the damage. You are required to do this, and it will help avoid many problems later. As a tenant, don’t wait for your landlord, even if the solution will be more expensive. Afterwards, your insurance will reimburse you for almost all the costs you incur.

Is the problem at your neighbour’s? Notify the residents, landlord or building manager as soon as possible.


A few quick solutions to the most common problems: close the water main right away, or turn off water supply to the appliance that is leaking. If your roof has been damaged, place a canvas sheet over it until it can be repaired.

2. Remember your electricity

In the case of a water leak at or near an electrical appliance, or if there are electrical wires near the leak, switch off the circuit-breaker. Get a professional to help you before switching the electricity back on.

3. Free up the area

First, remove anything that has not been affected but that could be damaged, even large objects such as pieces of furniture. Then remove any items affected, to prevent further damage.

4. Take stock of all the damage.

You can now start compiling all the information you will need to make a claim. Use this checklist so that your case can be handled as quickly as possible:

  • Draw up a list of the damages caused, whether to your valuables or to the home itself. Describe the damage as precisely as possible, and provide details such as the make and size of any damaged items. If possible, look for your sales receipts.
  • Take photos, not only of the objects but also of the walls, ceiling and floor. Don’t forget to take pictures of the source of the problem, even if it lies outside the home.
  • Indicate the date and time when the problems began. This is always important, especially in cases of flooding or heavy rain.


You can already contact a professional who can make the necessary repairs. Ask for quotes.

5. Dry everything out as much as possible

Is everything under control and on the list? Turn on the heating or air the place out. Then you can begin to clean up. You don't need to stay in a dirty home until the expert comes by.

If the water damage is caused by freezing, don't do anything dangerous to thaw out the items in question. Don’t put them by an open fire, for example. In any case, you should save any damaged items, just in case. They could be useful later for your insurance claim.

6. Inform your landlord

Are you renting your home? First, contact your landlord before notifying your own insurer. The landlord has to check first what repairs are needed, such as those relating to the pipes or the roof.

Depending on the landlord’s decision, proceed to contact the insurer. As a tenant, you are in fact responsible, unless your lease agreement has a clause renouncing liability. In that case, the landlord will contact his or her own insurer regarding the damage caused to the property. You will be responsible in that case only for damage to other homes or to your personal effects.

7. File your insurance claim with your insurer as soon as possible.

Collect all the information regarding the points mentioned above and contact your insurer. You can contact ING at any time.

Be aware of the following points:

  • Submit everything, with as much detail as possible. Both the information on your part and those from the landlord.
  • Don’t throw away any of the damaged items. You will probably still need them for your claim file.
  • Be sure to keep all the receipts or invoices, both for repairs and any work done to limit the damage, as well as sales receipts for the damaged items.

ING Home Insurance

With home insurance for tenants or owners you can enjoy customized protection. You are 100% insured against theft, water damage and in extreme weather, and you enjoy an exclusive repair service 24/7. In case of damage, our advisers are ready to help day and night.