Natural Disasters - after the event

It’s understandable to want to clean up after a natural disaster, but first read this webpage. This will help you get the right information to send to your insurer for your claim to be paid.

Download this webpage as an easy-to-reference PDF

The safety of you and your family is the most important.

  • Stay out of badly damaged buildings.
  • If your property has been flooded, turn off the power. Don’t turn it back on until it has been checked by an electrician.
  • Avoid wading through flood water.
  • Wear gloves, masks and protective gear where available.
  • If you come into contact with flood water, wash your clothes, shoes and skin afterwards.
  • Take extra care on the road.
  • Do not try to drive flooded vehicles as their brakes and electrics may be faulty.

Take steps to prevent further damage:

  • Move valuables, appliances, and furniture off the floor.
  • Avoid using appliances that might have water damage.
  • Tie or buckle down heavy items (e.g., trampolines).
  • Unplug sensitive equipment in case of a power cut.
  • Do not perform repairs unless they are essential (e.g., water, electricity, gas, sewerage).

If you can’t stay in your home, or are otherwise experiencing vulnerability, do not hesitate to call your insurer.

For those with home or contents insurance, including renters, check your policy for the temporary accommodation benefits and any limits on how long they are available.

Insurers will require you to provide evidence to prove items were damaged during a natural disaster.

Before you clean up or throw damaged items away:

  • Record the damage, e.g., make a written list of items and what has happened.
  • Take photos and/or videos to evidence the written list of damage.

If your property was damaged in an earlier event, but now has additional damage, be sure to record the new damage and report that to your insurer.

What do I take photos of?

  • Your mailbox, to confirm the location of the damage.
  • The front, sides and back of your home and outbuildings (e.g., garden shed, garage).
  • Any damaged contents in, or on, these buildings.
  • Any model or serial number where visible on damaged contents included in the claim.
  • Any damaged land (e.g., retaining walls, bridges, culverts).
  • If applicable, where flood water reached its highest point within your property (mark this).

How should I take the photos?

  • Use multiple angles.
  • Use wide shots and zoom in on specific details.
  • Include a tape measure in the shot to show the size of the item or damaged area.
  • Timestamp your photos. If you are using a digital camera, ensure the date stamp function is on. If you have printed photos, note the date the photo was taken on the back.
  1. Mark and photograph the highest point of any flooding.
  2. You can dispose of fully flooded property, especially carpets, soft furniture, such as sofas and beds, plus other ruined or contaminated items that can’t otherwise be properly cleaned. Wear appropriate protective equipment if you’re doing this yourself. Keep a sample to make it easier for replacement later. List everything that you remove, take photographs and keep any proof of purchase, such as receipts that you have. You will need such records to support your claim.
  3. Set aside items that can be cleaned. Do not keep unsanitary items in your home.
  4. You can start with emergency repairs to make your home safe and sanitary. Keep receipts and record of work done.
  5. When the weather allows, start the drying out process. Remove all the water you can, open windows and doors to get as much air in as possible. If you can get fans and dehumidifiers, use these safely.
  6. Do not remove hard floor coverings, wall linings or structural elements of a property or disturb any materials which might contain hazardous substances. You must talk to your insurer if this is required, and only suitably qualified professionals should undertake this work.

Contact your insurer as soon as you can. If you cannot get through by phone, use the insurer’s online claim form on its website.

  • Ask what your policy covers and what you need to do to make a claim.
  • Ask your insurer to confirm this in writing. Understanding what you need to do can help prevent problems later.

Free Phone 0800 888 202


Phone 04 499 7612


The Government announced Sunday 19 February 2023, the establishment of a new service called the New Zealand Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS). This service will provide expert support to homeowners with insurance claims after natural disasters to avoid disputes, resolve issues and ensure claims are settled in a timely manner.

Homeowners who are impacted by any natural disasters should talk to their insurer in the first instance. If they have concerns about their claim or are unsure about the process, they can contact NZCRS.

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