New Mexico Wildfires DR-4652 Frequently Asked Questions and Rumor Control

We continue to work with federal, state, local, tribal and community partners to support the ongoing response for the New Mexico Wildfires. This page offers answers to frequently asked questions and rumors about New Mexico Wildfires (DR-4652).

Rumors and Scams

Do your part to the stop the spread of rumors by doing three easy things:

  1. Find trusted sources of information.
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  3. Discourage others from sharing information from unverified sources.
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Frequently Asked Questions and Rumors

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Rumor: I heard there is a blanket waiver that allows me to purchase flood insurance with just a one-day waiting period, because the wildfires started on federal land.

Fact:

There is no blanket waiver. Generally, by law, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase until flood insurance coverage takes effect with very few exceptions. There is an exception called the Post-Wildfire Exception, and it only applies in narrow situations on a case-by-case basis. This exception is relevant when a new policy (or additional coverage) is within the standard 30-day waiting period and a loss is experienced qualifying it for the Post-Wildfire exception and resulting in a 1-day waiting period.

In order to be potentially eligible:

  • The insured property must be privately owned and experience damage caused by a flood that originated on federal land;
  • Post-wildfire conditions on federal lands caused or worsened the flooding; and
  • The policy holder purchased the new, additional or increased coverage either before the fire containment date or during the 60-calendar day period following the fire containment date.

It’s important to know that the Standard Flood Insurance Policy does not insure damage from a flood that began before a new policy’s waiting period (or coverage, if no waiting period) began, even if the flood did not damage the insured property until after the waiting period (or coverage) began. So, if you purchase flood insurance after a flood is already in progress, you won’t be able to be covered for a loss.

If you purchase flood insurance (or additional increased coverage), are in your waiting period, and experience a flood loss, ask your insurance agent or adjuster if you may be eligible for this 1-day, Post-Wildfire waiting period exception.

Rumor: If I take part in a class-action lawsuit I cannot apply for assistance from FEMA.

Fact:

This is not true. Residents of New Mexico affected by the ongoing wildfires can still apply for assistance from FEMA, even if you plan to take part in or are taking part in a class-action lawsuit.

Rumor: If I receive assistance from FEMA, the federal government will take my land.

Fact:

FEMA grants do not have to be paid back. FEMA will not seize any land or property in return for providing disaster assistance.

Rumor: Receiving a letter from FEMA stating that I am not eligible means I will not receive any assistance.

Fact:

Not necessarily true. Receiving such a letter does not always mean an applicant is not eligible for disaster assistance, even when the letter states “ineligible” or “incomplete.” Such a letter can simply be an indication that more information is needed, or that the applicant’s insurance claim needs to be settled before FEMA disaster assistance can be granted. Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 with questions.

Can FEMA reimburse me for my lodging expenses?

FEMA may be able to provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket lodging expenses that are not covered by insurance benefits such as additional living expenses or loss of use. The survivor’s pre-disaster primary residence must be unlivable, inaccessible or affected by an extended disaster-caused utility outage to be considered.

I have insurance, can I still get reimbursed for my lodging expenses?

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits of insurance. Insurance policies may include Additional Living Expenses or Loss of Use coverage, which is a benefit that provides supplemental money to cover increased costs, including temporary housing, when you are unable to live in your home due to a loss covered by insurance.

Lodging Expense Reimbursement (LER) from FEMA may only be considered if an applicant has not received lodging assistance from any other source (e.g., voluntary organization) for the same dates the applicant is requesting LER.

When can I expect to receive reimbursement for my eligible lodging expenses?

Lodging Expenses Reimbursement requests are manually reviewed by processing staff. In larger scale disasters, it can take one to two months after receipts are submitted to receive reimbursement.

Can I get reimbursed for my food or transportation costs while I’m staying at a hotel?

No. Eligible expenses may include the cost of the room and taxes charged by a hotel or other lodging provider. This does not include costs for food, phone calls, transportation or other miscellaneous expenses.

Can I apply for assistance with FEMA if I am a renter?

Yes, renters may apply for disaster assistance with FEMA. If you have renter’s insurance, you should call your insurance provider to file a claim. If you are insured, you must provide information from your insurance which may include a declaration page and a settlement or denial.

Does FEMA reimburse/cover the loss of outbuildings or secondary residences?

No. FEMA will provide disaster assistance to eligible applicants for a primary residence. FEMA will not consider more than one primary residence for a survivor and his/her spouse. FEMA defines your primary residence as the place where you live for more than six months of the year.

Last updated May 17, 2022