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.

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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 had initially thought we would be able to assess the damage and work with FEMA and our insurance carrier's adjusters by ourselves. It quickly became evident that we were going to need help. We realized we did not have the personnel, time or expertise it was going to take to deal with complex governmental regulations and equally complex insurance and adjusting issues, especially when it was taking all the resources we had just to get essential county services up and running again. ... your organization really came to the rescue. You delivered what you promised, and that counts for everything down here in South East Texas.
Cary Erickson, SPHR
Director of Human Resources and Risk Management - Jefferson County, Texas
The 2004 hurricane season was a difficult one for Lee County in Southwest Florida. We were fortunate, indeed, to have retained your firm to process FEMA claims following Hurricane Charley. Especially effective was the coordinated approach you used in seeking financial relief from separate sources such as FEMA, FHWA, NRCS and insurance. ...The knowledge needed to deal with FEMA regulations is mind-boggling. It was obvious you and your team are very much up to speed with these regulations, procedures and processes.Without hesitation, we would recommend you and your firm to anyone faced with the task of processing large and/or complex loss claims in a disaster environment. Your firm's ability to bring together the right team of professionals at the right time resulted in the creation of a superior product. Your thoroughness, knowledge, attention to detail, and logical approach provided us with the assurance that we would obtain the maximum reimbursement from all eligible sources.
Tony Majul
Budget Director - Lee County, Florida

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