How to File a FEMA Claim
When a large-scale natural disaster occurs such as a hurricane or wildfire, local and state resources can be depleted quickly. When this happens, the State’s Governor will request the President proclaim a Major Disaster Declaration which activates the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin distributing funds to those deemed eligible. Here are the key steps to filing a claim with FEMA:
1.) Damaged property must be in a federally declared disaster area
- Find out if your property is in a declared area by going to FEMA’s website: https://www.fema.gov/disasters
2.) File a claim with your insurance company as well
- Failure to report property damage to your insurance company can affect your eligibility for federal assistance from FEMA.
- FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles.
- FEMA cannot help pay for anything that your insurance will cover.
3.) Prepare necessary information for the application process
- You will need:
- Social Security Number
- Address of property that was damaged
- Current address (where you are living in the interim)
- Current/working phone number
- Property insurance information (carrier, policy number, etc.)
- Total household income
- Routing and account information for checking/savings account
- Description of disaster-related damages and losses
- Upon completion, you will be given a FEMA claim number, write this down or store it safely (in your phone) as it will make future interactions easier.
5.) Check the status of your FEMA application
- By using the same method you applied with – online or by phone - within 24 hours
- FEMA will mail you a copy of your application along with a detailed guide that walks you through the assistance process.
- If you have an e-mail account you can log onto DisasterAssistance.gov and click on “Check Your Status.”
6.) A FEMA Inspector will contact you within 10-14 days
- The inspector will to set up a time to visit your property and inspect the damage.
- FEMA home inspections have no fee.
- You must be physically present at the time of the inspection.
- You must be able to provide the inspector proof of ownership and occupancy.
7.) The FEMA inspector will then submit the report to FEMA
- Reviews of inspections take about 10 days.
8.) If you qualify, a check will be sent by mail, or the money will be transferred into your checking/savings account along with a letter explaining how you are to use the funds
- FEMA funds are tax-free and do not have to be repaid.
- Amount of assistance relies on how much damage your state has reported among other factors.
John Marini, President and CEO at Adjusters International discusses how FEMA and an insurance policy work together:
For more information on FEMA claims, visit:
- Disaster Recovery Today: “Provided free of charge as a public service by Adjusters International, Disaster Recovery Today contains knowledge acquired through years of study and field experience. The information contained in its pages has allowed Adjusters International’s Disaster Recovery Consulting division to become recognized as specialists in FEMA’s Public Assistance program. We have assisted grantees and applicants with virtually all facets of recovery from planning to close-out, and are pleased to be able to share this expertise.”
- DisasterAssistance.gov – Get Assistance
- FEMA Public Assistance – Applicants, Grantees, Resources, etc.