My home flooded and I’m overwhelmed. What is the first thing I should do?
The first thing you should always do is get yourself and your family to a safe place. Once you are safe, you can start to think about how to mitigate the devastating effects of your property loss. Because of the widespread flooding in this area and the time, it will take before you may be able to access your property again, take this time to make your flood insurance claim, register with FEMA, and apply for additional assistance. There will likely be waitlists to get an adjuster out to your home, and the sooner you make your claim, the sooner an adjuster can get to your property to inspect the damage. Please see our website for other good tips on what to do immediately following a flood: My Home Flooded. Now What?
Is registering with FEMA different than filing my flood insurance claim?
Yes. If you have flood insurance, your flood insurance claim should be made through your flood insurance company that issued your National Flood Insurance Program Standard Flood Insurance Policy. In addition to making a flood insurance claim, you can also register with FEMA and apply for additional assistance that is or will become available for victims of Hurricane Harvey and the recent flooding in Houston and surrounding areas.
How do I register with FEMA?
Affected homeowners (whether you have flood insurance or not) can register with FEMA and apply for disaster assistance by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.
My home was in a mandatory evacuation area. Will FEMA reimburse my evacuation expenses?
No. FEMA does not reimburse evacuation expenses, even if the evacuation was mandatory. However, you should save any hotel or lodging receipts because FEMA may reimburse you for hotel or lodging expenses if your home was damaged to the extent that you are not able to return for an extended period. However, in order to apply for reimbursement of these expenses, you must be registered with FEMA. You can register with FEMA and apply for disaster assistance by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.
Do I have to pay back FEMA assistance?
Most assistance received by FEMA is through grants and will not need to be repaid – this includes grants for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, and other serious disaster-related expenses. However, there is a loan program through the Small Business Administration (SBA) that does require repayment. Research the specific type of assistance you are eligible for to know your individual obligations.
Once the water recedes and I can safely return to my flooded home, is it okay to begin cleaning my home and disposing of damaged items?
This one is a little tricky. After the water has receded and you are able to safely access your home, you should immediately begin to clean and mitigate your damages – tear out wet drywall and get wet and damaged items out of the home so you can begin water extraction and drying out. However, you should never dispose of any damaged items before the insurance company has had an opportunity to inspect the damage unless you have written permission from your flood insurance company to do so. Oral permission from your adjuster is not sufficient. Take extensive and detailed photos of all damage prior to removing anything from the home – especially of your contents and of your home’s walls before tearing out drywall so you can show your adjuster where the water line was.
My home flooded, and my roof is leaking. Will flood insurance cover both?
No. If you have water coming in your home from above (like a leak in the roof or from a window), you likely have windstorm damage and need to make a claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy. For those homeowners that are out of harm’s way and ready to make their Hurricane Harvey homeowner’s claim, you should do so before August 31, 2017, at midnight, before new laws governing storm damage claims take effect on Sept. 1. For more information on this, please visit:
Do I have to file my Hurricane Harvey or Houston Flood insurance claim before September 1st?
Should I sign a contract with a restoration company or contractor that requires me to assign my FEMA and/or insurance proceeds to their company?
No! As a general rule, we recommend that you DO NOT assign your FEMA or insurance benefits to any contractor or company. For more important tips on choosing a contractor after a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, please visit:
Helpful tips for choosing a contractor to repair your home after a disaster
Browse other Mostyn Law Topics:
- Insurance Claim Do’s and Don’ts:
- Tips to Manage the Insurance Claims Process
- Don’t Accept Claims Reports at Face Value – What You Need to Know
- Allowing a Thorough Inspection Can Prevent Claim Issues Later
- Mostyn Requests Extension of 60-Day Proof of Loss Deadline for Hurricane Harvey Flood Victims: