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Will FEMA help you if you have property owners’ insurance?

You know how you have liability coverage on your car, and then you have uninsured/underinsured motorist protection to cover your injuries if someone hits you that does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages? That’s what FEMA works like…. it works like uninsured/underinsured motorist protection for your home and belongings after a disaster.
Under federal law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance settlements or other benefits, but there are cases where insured survivors might still be eligible for FEMA help. For example:
  • Your settlement was delayed longer than 30 days after you filed a claim.
  • The settlement does not fully cover all your losses and needs.
  • You exhausted the additional living expenses provided in your policy.
  • You cannot locate suitable rental resources in your community.

Take the following steps to make sure you get all eligible help. File your insurance claims for the damage caused by Hurricane Ida as soon as possible.

Apply with FEMA for assistance

You don’t have to wait for your insurance settlement to apply. If you have registered with other organizations, you still need to apply with FEMA if you want to be considered for FEMA assistance. Here’s how:
Call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or (TTY: 800-462-7585). The toll-free telephone lines operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. PDT, seven days a week.

After You Apply With FEMA

Once you have registered, you have 12 months to let FEMA know if your insurance coverage was not enough and you want to be considered for help.

To request FEMA assistance, fax or mail FEMA a letter explaining the circumstances to:
FEMA Individuals and Households Program, National Processing Center, P.O. Box 10055 Hyattsville, MD 20702-8055

Fax: 800-827-8112.

Who is eligible for FEMA?

To be eligible for this benefit program, you must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien, and all of the following:
  • You must have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster by the President of the United States.
  • Your primary residence has been affected, and damages to your primary residence are disaster-related.
  • Your primary residence is uninhabitable or inaccessible.
  • The disaster-caused need cannot be met through other forms of disaster assistance or insurance; because of this, you need to file with your own homeowners’ policy first.
  • You have insufficient or no insurance.

What does FEMA Assistance Cover?

FEMA can provide assistance for items not covered by insurance for homeowners and renters. You cannot receive assistance from both your insurance company and FEMA for the same damage. Doing so is illegal insurance fraud.

What kind of assistance can FEMA provide to Individuals and Households?

The following types of assistance may be provided by FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program.
  • Temporary Housing Assistance: Financial assistance to homeowners or renters to rent a temporary place to live in if your home is unlivable because of the disaster, and you have no insurance coverage for temporary housing. If there no rental properties are available, as a last resort, a government housing unit may be provided in some areas.
  • Lodging Expenses Reimbursement: Reimbursement of hotel expenses for homeowners or renters for short periods of time due to inaccessibility or utility outage, if not covered by insurance or any other program.
  • Home Repair: Financial assistance to homeowners to repair disaster-caused damage to their primary residence, when the damage is not covered by insurance, to make the home safe, sanitary, and fit to occupy. This assistance may include funds for hazard mitigation measures, such as roof, furnace, water heater, or main electrical panel mitigation, to help reduce the amount of damage to the home in future disasters, if those items were damaged by the disaster.
  • Home Replacement: Financial assistance to homeowners to help replace their home destroyed in the disaster, when the damage is not covered by insurance.
  • Permanent Housing Construction: Direct or financial assistance for the construction or repair of a home. This type of help occurs only in certain unique cases where no other type of housing assistance is possible.

Other Assistance

Financial assistance is available for necessary expenses and serious needs directly caused by the disaster, including:

  • Child-care expenses.
  • Medical and dental expenses.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Damages to essential household items (room furnishings, appliances); clothing; tools (specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, schoolbooks, supplies).
  • Fuel for the primary heat source (heating oil, gas).
  • Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier).
  • Damage to an essential vehicle.
  • Moving and storage expenses caused by the disaster. This is moving and storage of essential household goods to prevent further damage, such as ongoing repairs, and returning property to the applicant’s primary residence.

Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.

File your Insurance Claim Immediately

Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Ida who have not already done so, are advised to contact their insurance company and file a claim for disaster-caused damage. Survivors in parishes designated for Individual Assistance who have uninsured or underinsured losses may be eligible for FEMA assistance to make their homes livable.

Understand What Losses FEMA May Cover

FEMA assistance differs from insurance in that it only provides the basic needs to make a home safe, sanitary, and functional. FEMA assistance does not make you whole again, but it can give you a helping hand to recover. FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate you for your entire loss.
Home damage must be related to Hurricane Ida. FEMA inspectors may contact survivors who apply to arrange for an inspection appointment. Examples of Safe, Sanitary, and Functional Repairs to Make a Home Fit to Live in:
  • Property: FEMA may assist with the replacement of or repairs to disaster-damaged heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems as well as refrigerators and stoves. Other possible repairs that may be covered are utilities such as electrical, plumbing, and gas systems. Non-essential items like dishwashers and home-theater equipment are not covered.
  • Ceiling and roof damage: FEMA grants may help to repair disaster-related leaks in a roof that cause damage to ceilings and threaten electrical components, like overhead lights, but will not pay for simple stains from roof leaks.
  • Floors: FEMA assistance may be used to repair a disaster-damaged subfloor in occupied parts of the home, but not floor covering like tile or carpet.
  • Windows: FEMA payments may assist with disaster-related broken windows, but not blinds or drapes.
Other FEMA help may include temporary expenses to pay for lodging if a survivor’s home is unlivable or assistance for replacing essential household items. As every survivor’s situation is different, FEMA calculations on what it may cover vary. Expenses for repairs that exceed the conditions to make a home safe, sanitary and functional are ineligible. Assistance depends on a host of factors like insurance coverage and, in some respects, the ability to pay. A Lawyer’s Tips for dealing with your insurance company:
  1. Get your property appraised by an independent damages appraiser (Not affiliated with your insurance company).
  2. Get repair estimates from general contractors.
  3. Provide video and photographs of the damages to your home and your area to the insurance company.
  4. Send your proof of loss (the property appraisal, contractor estimates, photos, and videos) to the insurance company via CERTIFIED MAIL AND KEEP THE GREEN CARD.
This will give you some bargaining power. Insurance companies are going to low-ball you with minimum offers. Having the foregoing data will put you in a position to negotiate.