WINDSOR, Conn. — Disaster officials offered hope today to property owners and renters coming up short on insurance settlements for damage due to Hurricane Sandy.
Insured disaster survivors must file claims with their insurers, because Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance does not duplicate insurance benefits. However, survivors who do not register for FEMA assistance before the Jan. 28 deadline may discover too late that their insurance payout leaves them uninsured or underinsured for certain items.
Insurance policies may not take into account changes in costs for labor and materials. Policyholders might have reduced coverage to save money during a down economy and find themselves uninsured for some losses.
“Apply for disaster assistance and keep in touch with FEMA on the outcome of your insurance settlement,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Albert Lewis. “A first notice that benefits aren’t available due to insurance could be changed with new information. But if you haven’t registered, that option goes away.”
Examples of cases where insurance may be lacking include the category insurers call Additional Living Expenses, which may not be covered for temporary housing, such as in flood insurance policies. Other uninsured items could be disaster-related medical or dental expenses, vehicle losses, essential tools for workers, or lost computers and books owned by students.
Residents registered for assistance also become eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. A FEMA registration number is a requirement for individuals to seek SBA disaster loans of up to $200,000 for physical damage losses and up to $40,000 for contents. However, businesses may apply for disaster loans without first applying for FEMA assistance.
Survivors can register online anytime day or night at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or with a smartphone or other Web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. Survivors can also register by phone anytime by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362. The TTY number is 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available at the close of the English message.
Registering for disaster assistance with other agencies or organizations does not register survivors for FEMA disaster assistance. Having FEMA flood insurance does not register policyholders for disaster assistance, nor does it disqualify anyone from applying for assistance. Flood insurance claims are handled separately.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362. For TTY, call 800-462-7585.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, nonprofit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and covers the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.