SonomaCountyRecovers: Official recovery information for Sonoma County fires
financial documents

Financial Help

Dealing with financial challenges after a disaster can be daunting. You are not alone. These resources can help get you started.

FEMA Disaster Assistance

If you suffered personal or business losses in the devastating wildfires that broke out in October and you’re waiting for your insurance settlement before you register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), don’t wait any longer. Disaster assistance may be able to fill insurance gaps or provide help if you’ve been waiting more than 30 days on a homeowner’s claim. Another reason not to delay: the deadline for registering with FEMA is Dec. 11, 2017. Click here for more information.

Insurance Claims

  • Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage.
  • Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and provide receipts if possible. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage where it occurred for further documentation to support your claim.
  • If possible, keep damaged items or portions of those items until the claims adjuster has visited your home. Do not throw away anything you plan to claim without discussing it with your adjuster first.
  • Keep receipts for all additional expenses that you may incur such as lodging, repairs or other supplies.
  • Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster or insurance company. Besides insurance, there are many questions related to taxes, expenses and determining just how you will recover from a personal financial point of view. For helpful advice, please see Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues (A5076).

Cash Flows, Bills, and Debt

  • Stop unnecessary expenses. For example, if your home is temporarily uninhabitable or totally destroyed, notify the utility company and other service companies, such as the phone company, so they can stop billing immediately.
  • Estimate the amount of income and emergency savings you have to pay bills while you recover from the disaster, then prioritize your bills. Paying your insurance premiums and rent or mortgage should be your top priority.
  • Call any creditors and ask for more time to pay. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, especially if you notify them before a payment is due.

Source: American Red Cross

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