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.
Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if you have registered with another disaster-relief organization, such as the American Red Cross. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance or other benefits. However, FEMA may be able to help with uninsured or underinsured losses if the insurance settlement is delayed. FEMA may also be able to help:
- If you have received the settlement from the insurance company but you still have unmet needs.
- If you have exhausted the settlement for Additional Living Expenses (ALE for loss of use) and you need disaster-related temporary housing.
- If your settlement does not cover disaster-related needs such as medical, dental and funeral costs, emergency home repairs and other disaster-related expenses.
If your settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days, you may write FEMA to explain your situation. Provide insurance documentation to prove you’ve submitted your claim, including the claim number, the date you applied and how long you estimate it will take for the company to settle, and mail your letter to:
FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-70155
fax it to 800-827-8112.
You should also register with FEMA if your wells or septic systems were damaged in the fires. Homeowners in the eight designated counties – Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba – may be eligible for grant funding to pump septic tanks, perform required repairs or replace the system as needed. Damaged private wells that are the sole source of water for the home and need to be repaired or decontaminated are also potentially eligible.
Survivors who applied for assistance from FEMA and were contacted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have many good reasons to submit a loan application before the deadline of Dec. 11, 2017.
Some of the key reasons for submitting an SBA low-interest disaster loan application include:
- SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. Renters, as well as homeowners, may be eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, appliances and damaged vehicles.
- A future insurance settlement may fall short. Survivors may find out that they are underinsured for the amount of work it takes to repair or replace their damaged home. An SBA low-interest disaster loan can cover the uninsured costs. SBA may approve a loan for the repair or replacement of a home up to $200,000. The loan balance may be reduced by their insurance settlement. However, the opportunity for an SBA loan may be lost if they wait until after the deadline expires on Dec. 11, 2017.
- If SBA determines the survivors aren’t eligible for a loan, SBA may refer them back to FEMA. This could make them eligible for more FEMA assistance.
Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), go online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or visit a Disaster Recovery Center as soon as possible.
Disaster assistance applicants, who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time seven days a week until further notice.
You can view the FEMA Registration Intake Video to learn more about the process and how to apply. You can also learn how FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) may be able to help.