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Flood Help

Google Flood Help is a digital platform that helps Canadians assess their flood risk and navigate a sea of confusing flood insurance regulations. Flood Help will be adaptable to changing weather circumstances leveraging Google's expansive data in mapping and computing to provide people with help that ranges from quick tips to long term protection solutions.


Team: Jimmy Hsu

Role: Product Designer

Type: Personal Project

Tools: Sketch, Flinto



Visibility and awareness

  • Flood maps are not made publicly available, sellers of properties are currently not required to disclose flood risk.

  • The Federal legislation introducing private flood insurance is interpreted differently by the provinces which makes it confusing and inconsistent. This allows homeowners to be legally taken advantage of in the aftermath of a flood event.

  • Extreme weather is expected to increase substantially within the next half-century. Few homeowners saw themselves as being at risk or knew if they were covered or not.

Out of 2,300 Canadians surveyed, 70% of respondents had not been approached by their insurance providers about flood insurance.
— Climate Centre, University of Waterloo, 2017
The federal government’s last major effort to draw up a flood risk map dates back to the 1970s.
— Climate Centre, University of Waterloo, 2017

Design Strategy

Focusing on the Homeowner

 There are two groups of homeowners to consider for this project.

  • Homeowners in the first camp were angry and frustrated by a system that had let them down after a flood event.

  • Homeowners in the second camp were simply unaware of their risk and had little idea of what might happen.

The right design solution needed to encourage both groups of homeowners to take action and learn about flood risk and insurance regulations, while also addressing divergent levels of need and preparedness.


Design Strategy

Natural Entry Points

Given that there is such a wide variety of homeowners with different levels of tech comprehension, the service needed to be discoverable. Therefore, the first thing I focused on was discovering natural entry points which are accessible by all kinds of homeowners. To better reach homeowners of all types, I am proposing a service that would be built on top of Google Crisis and would be accessible under search.

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Precedent Study

Dissecting Flood Insurance Quotes

I analyzed and dissected flood insurance quotes from various providers such as SquareOne and Aviva to determine what details were needed for user onboarding and what could be shown/edited later in the process. The insurance questionnaire process can seem daunting and require a lot of information, so the aim here is to spread out the content so that it would make the experience easier and lower cognitive overhead.


Precedent Study

Google Solar Savings

As the price of installing solar has gotten less expensive, more homeowners are turning to it as a possible option for decreasing their energy bill. Project Sunroof wants to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone. Project Sunroof puts Google's expansive data in mapping and computing resources to use, helping homeowners calculate the best way to go solar.




Search and Crisis Integration

Google Crisis is a collection of national and regional-scale layers related to weather, hazards, and emergency preparedness and response. Google works with local authorities and first responders to provide access to critical information and resources when people need them the most.

Discovery: Here is a good opportunity for Flood Help to get people to start thinking about their flood risk by attaching itself to relevant crisis posts. 

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Home Page

Coming from Google Search, the home page needs to encourage both groups of homeowners to take action and learn about flood risk and insurance regulations, while also addressing divergent levels of need and preparedness. 

Information Strategy: The intent is to encourage homeowners to enter their address to begin, show how flood help works, and provide some statistics to facilitate a conversation between Google and Homeowners.




The dashboard helps homeowners learn what flood zone they are in, or will be in and how that effects their insurance rates, and what steps they can take to mitigate their risk. Google is able to collect this information already through crisis and solar saving’s address search. Some design decisions here are listed below.

High-level Overview: There is a lot of information to digest in regards to relevant insurance regulations. I approached this task by starting off with a high-level overview to help homeowners gain a quick sense of the types of information rather than showing it all at once.

Visual Design: I wanted to introduce icons, colours and images where possible to create clear calls to action and give the dashboard a lighter and more approachable feel.




Flood Insurance Estimate

The process of obtaining an insurance quote requires people to fill out a long form with a variety of questions. I based the questions off of insurance providers that currently offer overland flood insurance.

Questionnaire: By only presenting the minimum number of questions up front and splitting them into individual screens, the quoting process becomes easy to complete.

Addressing Uncertainty: We cannot expect all types of people to understand complex insurance questions completely. To address this, I have included a section that  answers frequently asked questions for that particular part of the quote. 





Visual Aids

For homeowners trying to navigate the complicated and often confusing landscape of increasing flood risk and federal flood insurance, every step toward simplicity is critical. I have created some custom illustrations to help homeowners better identify their type of home while bringing some visuals back into a text-heavy topic.

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Insurance Estimate

People might not have information on coverages and deductibles handy and would then be unable to move forward within the initial quoting process. This is why we move those details to the end so homeowners are able to tweak their coverages and see them update live.

Recommended Actions: Here is a good place where Flood Help can give recommendations to homeowners to help them lower their rate. I first present the result calculated from the quoting process, then list out ways homeowners can improve the quote that they received below.

Post-Service: Finally, Google isn't an insurance company, but we can direct users back into Google Search by helping them get started in finding trusted insurance providers to complete the experience. 





Future Proofing

Putting Google's expansive data in mapping and computing resources to use, Canadians can be equipped and ready to respond to unpredictable flood events in the future. This kind of framework can also be applied to cover issues beyond climate events.


I designed this service with a modular approach in mind. This means that we can keep up with ever-changing flood insurance regulations to cover from resiliency tips to the quote questionnaire.



Much to do ahead.

Sparked by a design challenge, I knew I wanted to address the ongoing flooding crisis. However, it would be impossible to do a meaningful project addressing the crisis as a whole because of its incredibly complex problem scope. Although some companies are now offering overland flood insurance, much of this information is still unknown to many people.