How to File a FEMA Claim

When a large-scale natural disaster occurs, such as a hurricane, earthquake, or wildfire, local and state resources can be depleted quickly. When this happens, the State’s Governor will request the President proclaim a Major Disaster Declaration which activates the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin distributing funds to those deemed eligible. Our experts can help immediately, with the experience and resources to mobilize quickly and begin working on your behalf to help qualify and obtain the maximum financial recovery for your property damage.

John Marini, President and CEO at Adjusters International discusses how FEMA and an insurance policy work together:
Key Steps To Filing A Claim with FEMA

Damaged property must be in a federally declared disaster area.

File a claim with your insurance company as well.

  • Failure to report property damage to your insurance company can affect your eligibility for federal assistance from FEMA.
  • FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles.
  • FEMA cannot help pay for anything that your insurance will cover.

Prepare necessary information for the application process. You will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Address of property that was damaged
  • Current address (where you are living in the interim)
  • Current/Working phone number
  • Property insurance information (carrier, policy number, etc.)
  • Total household income
  • Routing and account information for checking/savings account
  • Description of disaster-related damages and losses

Visit DisasterAssistance.gov to apply online or call 800.621.3362

  • Upon completion, you will be given a FEMA claim number, write this down or store it safely (in your phone) as it will make future interactions easier.

Check the status of your FEMA application.

  • Use the same method you applied with — online or by phone — within 24 hours.
  • FEMA will mail you a copy of your application along with a detailed guide that walks you through the assistance process.
  • If you have an e-mail account, you can log onto DisasterAssistance.gov and click on “Check Your Status.”

A FEMA Inspector will contact you within 10 to 14 days.

  • The inspector will to set up a time to visit your property and inspect the damage.
  • FEMA home inspections have no fee.
  • You must be physically present at the time of the inspection.
  • You must be able to provide the inspector proof of ownership and occupancy.

The FEMA inspector will then submit the report to FEMA.

  • Reviews of inspections take about 10 days.

If you qualify, a check will be sent by mail or the money will be transferred into your checking or savings account along with a letter explaining how you are to use the funds.

  • FEMA funds are tax-free and do not have to be repaid.
  • Amount of assistance relies on how much damage your state has reported, among other factors.
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Disaster Recovery Today is offered free of charge as a public service by our team of experts. Within its pages is the knowledge gained from years of study and field experience that has made our professionals recognized specialists in FEMA’s Public Assistance program. We have assisted recipients and applicants with virtually all stages of recovery from planning to closeout, and are pleased to be able to share this expertise and insight from a non-FEMA perspective.

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Disaster Planning — 9 Steps to a Successful Recovery

Following a declared disaster, organizations need to implement a well thought out recovery approach. We have identified nine key steps to a successful recovery under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program.

1

The first step after a declared disaster is to develop a management approach. An “ad-hoc” recovery team needs to be created, roles and responsibilities delineated, and a well-organized filing approach must be established to handle the many projects.

2

Determine your losses beginning with your cleanup and emergency response. Then building, equipment and supplies losses must be quantified “as it was” and “as it has to be.” Lost revenues and temporary relocation costs need to be calculated as well.

3

Categorize the losses: FEMA categories A-G, insured/uninsured, responsibility of OFA, and special considerations.

4

Determine eligibility. General eligibility requirements include the following: it needs to be required as the result of the event; it must be caused by the event (no pre-existing damage); it must be located within the designated disaster area; and it must be the legal responsibility of an eligible applicant.

5

Develop a rebuilding plan. The applicant needs to consider the recovery “as they want it to be” considering whether to replace or relocate certain buildings, fixtures or infrastructure. The mitigation approach is outlined in Section 406 and Section 404 of The Stafford Act. Categorization of anticipated insurance proceeds also needs to be well documented.

6

Develop a funding approach. These can be broken down into the following: Standard Project, Alternate Project, Improved Project or in special circumstances the Grant Acceleration Program.

7

Implement the plan. Implementation involves the development of applicable project worksheets and proposals and the completion of approved projects.

8

Final inspection and closeout. This includes the state audit of all large projects, dispute resolution, re-evaluation of applicable insurance reductions and the acquisition and maintenance of adequate insurance if reasonable and practical.

9

The audit process. FEMA’s Office of the Inspector General often selects subrecipient for program and financial audits. This can occur any time throughout the process; up to three years from the completion of all projects.

Who We
Have Helped

Discover in detail how our team of professionals is playing an instrumental role in helping hundreds of organizations, governments, communities, not-for-profits, and private sector clients prepare and recover sooner from the worst disasters.
We retained your services to assist us in the Public Assistance grant application process and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program with FEMA and the State of Florida. This turned out to be one of the most sensible decisions we made. Your organization made a very onerous situation much more bearable. ...The experience and knowledge that you provided us was invaluable.Without hesitation, we would be delighted to recommend your services to anyone who faces the task of processing large, complicated grant applications to the federal government. Your systematic approach and attention to detail allowed the City of Fort Myers to obtain our maximum eligible reimbursement.
Director, Financial Services
Judy Hartwell - City of Fort Myers, Florida
Your knowledge of the complex governmental regulations and equally complex insurance and adjusting issues really helped the County maximize the public assistance that was available after all of these disasters. You delivered what you promised and we are confident in your ability and the ability of your firm to provide these services fully on a technical and professional level, yet be able to translate in a clear and concise manner the intricate and sometimes subjective FEMA regulations which we could not have done without you.Without hesitation we would recommend you and your firm to anyone that is faced with the processing of large and complex disaster loss claims.
Salvatore R. Zappulla
Division Director Monroe County Budget and Finance - Monroe County, Florida

Adjusters International’s involvement helped reverse FEMA’s original denial of funding to full reimbursement for the repairs. In the end, Adjusters International’s determination of eligibility allowed the applicant to secure over $14 million in FEMA recovery funding for the facility.

A lack of adequate resources caused the situation to unfold the way it did in Slidell. Due to overburdened FEMA officials and insurance company adjusters, a number of projects were overlooked or underestimated.

  • Unkechaug Tribal Nation
  • Ramsey County, Minnesota
  • City Park of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • City of Weslaco Independent School District, Texas
  • Linn County, Iowa
  • Knapp Medical Center, Texas
  • City of Fort Walton Beach, Florida
  • AK-236, AK-237, AK-238 & AK-240 (State-Level Disaster Declarations)
  • Tulane University, Louisiana
  • Orange County, New York

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If you are in need of effective disaster recovery services, we can help!
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