How Will Your Insurance Company Respond to a Major Disaster

| December 16, 2008

Not every loss is covered under an insurance policy. What do you do after a major disaster when your insurance policy does not respond?

As a result of the damage caused by the Nor’easter that hit the North East region of the United States in mid April, 2007, President Bush issued a Major

Disaster Declaration for the states of Maine, New York and New Jersey. What exactly does this mean and how does it benefit residents affected by the storm?

Let’s take it step by step:

What is a Disaster?: A major disaster can be declared as a result of many things including but not limited to earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado or fire. A disaster is of a proportion that is clearly above and beyond the resources that can be handled by either local or state government. Once the President has declared an area a major disaster, the government can then begin the implementation of long-term federal recovery plans through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) On a lesser note, an emergency declaration allows for federal funding and assistance to meet needs in a specific emergency. The scope is smaller and the recovery processes are not long term.

What benefits become available with such a disaster declaration?: Disaster assistance comes in the form of money, loans and/or temporary housing to those affected by a natural or man-made loss that is not covered by traditional insurance. It does not replace an insurance policy , because unlike insurance policies, disaster assistance is not intended to restore your property to pre-damage condition, it is meant to help with critical expenses that are not
otherwise covered.

There are three tiers of assistance:

  • Personal Assistance: FEMA may provide temporary housing and assist financially with home repair or replacement. In certain circumstances they will assist and/or provide money for housing construction. The type of help provided by FEMA may vary depending on the situation.
  • Community/Public Assistance: As the title suggests, FEMA may provide aid to the local or state government to help pay for the cost of rebuilding the community.
  • Hazard Mitigation: This involves making grants available to assist in the implementation of steps to reduce the likelihood of such damage occurring in the future.

How do I go about getting assistance?: First go to the FEMA website to determine if in fact your are part of the disaster declared area. If so, Register with FEMA either through their website or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the speech and hearing impaired. By registering through FEMA’s website, there are step by step tutorials as to how to file a claim and what to do next.

Surviving a major disaster is an emotional and life changing experience. FEMA’s goal is to help people try to put their lives back together by having a safe, sanitary and functional place to live.

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com

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Category: Insurance

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a wife, mother, freelance writer and owner of Tidbits and Stuff.

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