Stay in Touch with FEMA About Your Insurance

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FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has requested that the Colorado Division of Insurance share this information with survivors of the Marshall Fire. 

According to FEMA, there are still a large number of FEMA assistance applications from homeowners who were impacted by the Marshall Fire and Straight Line Winds disaster that are still pending, as FEMA has not received information on their insurance settlement (either actual payouts or estimated payouts). 

Even though a majority of homeowners will not qualify for FEMA assistance for repair and rebuilding costs, there are other assistance programs people could still be eligible for, such as rental assistance for when additional living expenses (ALE) expire. It is important that homeowners provide up-to-date information to FEMA so that a determination can be made about the eligibility for these other programs. Without that insurance information, FEMA cannot determine eligibility. 

Stay in Touch with FEMA About Your Insurance
It is important to understand that the disaster recovery process is a layered one. No single entity can address all your recovery needs. This message is intended to provide some clarity on possible misconceptions about the relationship between insurance and FEMA assistance as you navigate through your recovery.

It is vital that you stay in touch with FEMA and that FEMA has your updated information regarding insurance benefits you’ve received or will receive. If at any point you have questions or information to update, please call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 and a staff member will assist you.

By law, FEMA is not allowed to duplicate benefits received. To that end, it is essential to stay in touch with FEMA (1-800-621-3362) and ensure they have up-to-date information for you.

Accessing the Recovery Process
Following a disaster, insurance is the best first stop. No single entity can address all your recovery needs. FEMA assistance is meant to address immediate needs of survivors, such as getting survivors into safe, sanitary, and functional housing. It is not intended to make you “whole” after the disaster. Since FEMA cannot duplicate benefits received from your insurance, most insured homeowners will not be eligible for repair or rebuild grants under the Individual Assistance Housing Assistance program. However, a final assessment of your eligibility for FEMA Individual Assistance cannot be made until you submit information on your insurance settlement.

Individuals affected by the Marshal Fire and Straight-Line Winds were also eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). After insurance, a low-interest disaster loan is a primary source of funds for real estate property repairs, rebuilding, and for replacing contents destroyed during the disaster. To date, SBA has approved more than 650 loans for over $94 million to individuals.

After insurance, a variety of Federal and State programs are available for unmet needs (i.e., needs your insurance settlement didn’t address) over the longer portion of the recovery process. In addition, no two recovery packages will look the same, nor will all payouts reach the maximum available. Every case is reviewed on its own individual merits before a determination is made as to the amount of assistance received.

FEMA Individual Assistance Program Grants
FEMA’s Individual Assistance program provides some financial assistance to households following a federal disaster declaration. The program can provide housing assistance, which may come in the form of rental assistance funds or funding to repair or replace a damaged dwelling. The program may also be able to assist with some damaged personal property, in conjunction with the SBA low interest loans. Eligibility for such assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis.

FEMA is prohibited, by law, from duplicating benefits another source has already covered or will cover for you. In other words, FEMA cannot provide a grant for a need that has been addressed by other entities including, insurance proceeds, assistance from another government agency, and/or, funds or property donated by a voluntary organization.

If you have, or will receive an insurance payment that exceeds the maximum FEMA grant for housing repair and rebuilding, FEMA cannot duplicate that insurance benefit.  However, you may be eligible for other types of FEMA assistance.  If you have received an estimated settlement from your insurance provider, submit it to FEMA.  It may be adequate to determine eligibility for other assistance.  You should remain in contact with FEMA and update your case as needed to include updated insurance settlement information.

Things to keep in mind
If you registered with FEMA, it is important to provide updated contact information, to provide all documentation and paperwork requested by FEMA, and to stay in touch, even if you think you have exhausted the process. One reason for this is that FEMA cannot make a final determination on your assistance eligibility until all the information on your insurance settlement is received. 

With a clear understanding of the insurance proceeds you’ve received, or are estimated to receive, and for what purpose they were used or designated, FEMA can continue updating your case file to ensure you receive information about federal assistance that may still be available to you.  Even if your case has been closed, a determination can still be made regarding any other funds you may be eligible for if you provide updated information. (see below)

If you have any questions call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 and a staff member will help you.

Where are you in the process?
If you registered with FEMA, it is vitally important to stay in touch. Cases that have gone 60 days with no contact are considered closed. If you have gone 60 days without being in touch, and are still interested in exploring FEMA assistance, please call the Helpline: 1-800-621-3362.

FEMA cannot make a final determination on your assistance eligibility without all your insurance information. Updating your information (to include current contact information) ensures a determination can be made regarding eligibility for additional assistance and preventing a duplication of benefits.  If you do not understand the status of your case or why FEMA is requesting certain information, please call the Helpline (1-800-621-3362) for assistance.

We know the recovery process is long and arduous. To that end, it is important to keep in touch with FEMA during the process as we want to help you navigate the federal resources available to you. If you have any questions regarding FEMA assistance, call the Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.  

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