How to File a Disaster Claim with FEMA

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FEMA has made a lot of changes and improvements over the past few years. The renewed efforts by FEMA make filing a disaster claim easy, which is helpful during the stressful recovery period following a disaster.

Things You'll Need

  • access to the internet, telephone or local emergency center
  • photo id
  • utility bill to use as proof of residency
  • insurance provider information
  • Contact FEMA right away to file your claim.
    Apply online at www.fema.gov, click on the "Online Individual Assistance Center" link
    or phone 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
    *If you are hearing/speech impaired call 1-800-462-7585

  • Be prepared to provide FEMA with the following:
    -Social Security number
    -details of your loss
    -insurance company and policy number
    -contact phone number where you can be reached by FEMA
    -directions to your home for the FEMA inspector

  • Contact your insurance company immediately, even if you don't think there is coverage for your loss. FEMA will need a letter from your insurance showing denial of coverage.

    Homeowner's insurance typically does not cover damage caused by heavy rains or floods, but you should contact your insurance provider immediately to file a claim in case you are covered.

    If you have a rider on your homeowner's policy for specific items, such as jewelry or electronics, those items may be covered for flood damage - but only those items specified in the rider. Again, it is important that you file the claim as quickly as possible.

  • Don't forget to file a claim with your auto insurance provider for any vehicle damages.
    Many vehicles have been underwater or damaged by rising waters caused by floods and heavy rain. If you carry comprehensive coverage on your vehicle then it is likely covered by your auto insurance. File a claim immediately with your insurance provider.

  • File a report with your local emergency management office. If you are unsure who to contact, ask your local law enforcement. In smaller areas the law enforcement agencies execute emergency management processes.

  • A FEMA inspector will visit your property. While there, they will take photos and measurements, enter damage reports into the FEMA database, and verify your identity and occupancy. Inspectors complete the information for your application, but they do not determine eligibility.

  • You will receive a letter from FEMA within approximately 10 days of the inspector's visit informing you of your eligibility, assistance, appeal process, and other programs you may be eligible for including low interest loans.

Tips & Warnings

  • Take lots of photos
  • Keep a journal with dates, contact info, and notes of damage and repair
  • Note your FEMA application number and keep it handy
  • Beware of scam artists posing as FEMA employees. Always ask for FEMA identification. When in doubt, phone the FEMA toll free number, 1-800-621-FEMA to verify an employee.

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