BURLINGTON, Vt. — Even if they have insurance, Vermonters may be eligible for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for losses caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
State and federal officials urge everyone who has homeowners insurance, flood insurance or both to register with FEMA. They may have disaster-related losses their insurance does not cover, such as:
• payments for a temporary rental while a home is being repaired
• repair of a disaster-damaged well or septic system
• repair or replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle
• personal property and household contents losses
• disaster-related medical or dental expenses
• moving and storage expenses
Those who believe all their losses are covered by insurance are nevertheless encouraged to register before the November 15 deadline. FEMA cannot help anyone who discovers an uninsured disaster-related problem — for example, mold — who fails to register before the deadline. Those who register may be eligible for assistance after the registration window closes.
Before FEMA can make grants to those with insurance, the property owner must provide proof of what the insurance covers. This is because FEMA cannot make grants for losses that are already covered by insurance.
“We regret the inconvenience that it may cause people already stressed by a disaster to provide insurance documentation before we can make a decision,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo. “But these rules were created to help us prudently manage taxpayers’ funds and we must follow them.”
Anyone who receives a letter from FEMA saying they are “ineligible” for assistance because they have insurance should be sure to get in touch with FEMA no later than 60 days after the date of that letter to be sure their case is kept open. Applicants may call the FEMA Helpline, 800-621-3362, for more information about their individual situation. For face-to-face help, there are disaster recovery centers open in Dover and Waterbury. See below for addresses and operation hours.
After registering with FEMA, while awaiting their insurance settlements, those with insurance should submit the disaster loan application that was sent to them from the U.S Small Business Administration. SBA makes low-interest disaster recovery loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and non-profits. The SBA may be able to offer a loan that will provide money for recovery if an insurance claim is delayed or denied. If the claim is paid, the insurance settlement can be used to pay off the SBA loan.
Vermonters who are experiencing delays or difficulties getting the information they need from their insurers or who have other insurance-related issues or concerns can contact Brenda Clark at the Consumer Services Division at the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration at 800-964-1784 in state or 8...