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How to Check the Flood Loss History for Your House

When considering buying or renting a house, checking its flood loss history is an essential step. Knowing if a property has experienced flooding in the past can help you make an informed decision and prepare for potential future risks. Here’s a simple guide on how to find out the flood loss history of a house.

Understanding Flood Risks and Their Impact

Flooding is a common and costly natural disaster. It can result from heavy rainfall, storm surges, river overflow, dam breaks, or rapid snowmelt. Floods can cause extensive damage to properties, leading to significant financial losses and health risks. Understanding the potential flood risk of a property is crucial for protecting your investment and ensuring the safety of its occupants.

Why Flood Loss History Matters

Knowing a property's flood loss history provides valuable insights into its vulnerability. Properties with a history of flooding may have hidden damage that could lead to future problems, such as structural issues, mold growth, and compromised electrical systems. Additionally, a property’s flood history can influence insurance costs and coverage availability. Homes in flood-prone areas often have higher insurance premiums and will likely require special flood insurance policies. If you need help deciding what type of flood insurance best fits your needs, call our flood experts at 866-503-5663.

Steps to Check Flood Loss History

1. Check Your Flood Zone

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works with your local floodplain managers to develop maps showing the high flood-risk areas in your region. These maps are a good starting point to understand the general flood risk in the area.

  • Find Your Flood Zone: Enter your address in our flood zone lookup tool to see if it’s in a high-risk flood zone. The map will display the flood zones in the area.

  • Understanding Flood Zones: FEMA flood zones indicate the level of flood risk. For example, Zone A and Zone AE are high-risk areas, while Zone X is moderate- to low-risk.

  • Implications for Homebuyers: If the property is in a high-risk flood zone, it’s more likely to have experienced flooding in the past. Lenders typically require flood insurance for properties in high-risk zones.


2. Review the Seller’s Disclosure

In many states, sellers are required by law to disclose any known issues with the property, including flood damage. This disclosure can provide valuable information about the property’s flood history.

  • Requesting the Disclosure: When you’re serious about purchasing a property, ask the seller for the disclosure form. This form will list any past flooding events, the extent of the damage, and any repairs made.

  • Legal Requirements: The requirements for seller disclosures vary by state. Some states have mandatory disclosure laws, while others follow a "buyer beware" approach.

  • Assessing the Information: Review the disclosure carefully and ask follow-up questions if necessary. If the seller indicates past flooding, inquire about the severity, frequency, and impact of the floods.

3. Hire a Professional Inspector

A home inspection is a critical step in the home-buying process. An experienced inspector can identify signs of past water damage that may not be immediately visible.

  • Choosing an Inspector: Look for a certified home inspector with experience in flood-prone areas. Organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) can help you find qualified professionals.

  • Inspection Focus Areas: During the inspection, the inspector will check for signs of water damage, such as:

  • Water stains on walls, ceilings, and floors

  • Mold or mildew growth

  • Musty odors

  • Warped or buckled flooring

  • Rusted appliances or HVAC systems

  • Damaged electrical systems

  • Inspection Report: The inspector will provide a detailed report of their findings. Use this report to assess the extent of any past flood damage and to negotiate repairs or price adjustments with the seller.

4. Request a CLUE Report

The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report provides a history of insurance claims on a property. This report includes information about claims made for flood damage in the past seven years.

  • Obtaining a CLUE Report: Only the property owner can request a CLUE report, so you’ll need the seller’s involvement to obtain it. Ask the seller to provide the report as part of the disclosure process.

  • Understanding the Report: The CLUE report lists NFIP insurance claims filed for the property, including the date of the claim, the type of loss, and the amount paid. Look for claims related to water damage or flooding.

  • Assessing the Risk: A history of multiple flood claims may indicate ongoing flood risk or insufficient repairs. Use this information to evaluate whether the property is a sound investment. If you deem it is, then obtaining flood insurance would be a vital next step to protecting your investment.

5. Consult Local Authorities

Local government offices, such as the planning or public works department, often maintain records of flood events and property damage. These records can provide additional information about the property’s flood history.

  • Visiting Local Offices: Contact the local planning or public works department to inquire about flood records. Some offices may have digital databases accessible online.

  • Requesting Information: Ask for records related to flooding in the area and any specific reports on the property in question. This may include floodplain maps, historical flood data, and records of flood mitigation projects.

  • Evaluating the Data: Use the information from local authorities to supplement what you’ve learned from other sources. Local records can provide a broader context for the property’s flood risk.

6. Talk to Neighbors

Neighbors can be a valuable source of information about the flood history of a property and the surrounding area. Long-term residents may have firsthand knowledge of past flooding events.

  • Introducing Yourself: When visiting the property, take the time to talk to neighbors. Explain that you’re considering buying the house and ask about their experiences with flooding in the area.

  • Key Questions to Ask:

  • Have there been any significant flooding events in recent years?

  • How did the neighborhood and specific properties fare during these events?

  • Are there any recurring issues with drainage or water accumulation?

  • Gaining Insights: Neighbors’ accounts can provide valuable insights into the flood risk of the property and the effectiveness of any flood mitigation measures.

Additional Considerations

1. Flood Insurance

If you’re buying a property in a flood-prone area, obtaining flood insurance is essential. Standard homeowners insurance policies typically do not cover flood damage, so a separate flood insurance policy is necessary.

  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): The NFIP, managed by FEMA, offers flood insurance to property owners in participating communities. Coverage options include both building and contents. You can obtain this type of insurance by giving us a call at 866-503-5603.

  • Private Flood Insurance: In addition to NFIP policies, many private insurers offer flood insurance. Private policies, backed by large and financially stable carriers, typically offer[BD1]  higher coverage limits and additional benefits. You can get an instant quote for private flood insurance at

  • Insurance Costs: The cost of flood insurance depends on various factors, including the property’s location, flood zone, elevation, and history of flood claims. Properties with a history of flooding may have higher premiums. If you’d like to compare an NFIP quote with a private quote, let our experts help you out. Give us a call at 866-503-5663.

2. Flood Mitigation Measures

If you’re considering a property with a flood history, evaluate the flood mitigation measures in place. Effective flood mitigation can reduce the risk of future damage.

  • Elevation: Elevated homes are less susceptible to flood damage. Check if the property has been elevated or if elevation is a feasible option.

  • Flood Barriers: Flood barriers, such as levees, floodwalls, and sandbags, can provide temporary protection during flood events.

  • Drainage Systems: Effective drainage systems, including sump pumps, French drains, and gutters, help manage water flow and reduce flood risk.

  • Landscaping: Proper landscaping can improve drainage and prevent water from pooling around the foundation. Consider grading the yard to slope away from the house.

3. Future Flood Risk

Understanding the potential for future flooding is crucial, especially with the increasing frequency and severity of flood events due to climate change.

  • Climate Change Impact: Climate change is causing more extreme weather events, including heavier rainfall and rising sea levels. These factors increase the risk of flooding in many areas.

  • Local Climate Data: Check local climate projections and flood risk assessments to understand how climate change may impact the property in the future.

  • Community Flood Management: Investigate the community’s flood management plans and initiatives. Communities with robust flood management strategies are better prepared to handle future flood risks.

Conclusion Checking the flood loss history of a house is an important step in the homebuying process. Start by using our Flood Zone look up. By taking a proactive approach and utilizing available resources, you can minimize the impact of flooding and ensure the safety and longevity of your home.

Purchasing a flood insurance policy is essential in high-risk areas to protect your financial investment.


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