Tips for financial recovery for those affected by Harvey, Irma
After the winds end and the waters recede, people affected by the two monster hurricanes in the southern United States will need to move fast, keep records and become their own advocates if they are to recover financially.
In the aftermath of natural disasters many people feel overwhelmed by the idea of long months of rebuilding.However, there are concrete steps and guidelines that can help people successfully file claims. It’s important for people watching and sympathizing with the devastation to look at their own coverage before a disaster strikes.
Many people whose property has been damaged bya flood learn quickly that standard homeowners’ policies cover structural and water damage only in limited circumstances, like when a falling tree knocks a hole in a roof or breaks a window, allowing rain to fall inside. Most policies do not cover damages that result from rising water, unless the homeowner lives in a designated flood zone and has purchased insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. (To make a claim through FEMA, visit https://www.fema.gov/nfip-file-your-claim.)
There are reports that up to 80 percent of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey do not have flood insurance. For those who do not have flood insurance, the government may step in with a safety net. Americans affected can check with DisasterAssistance.gov to learn the details about how to get assistance.
In the latest contribution to LetsMakeaPlan.org, CFP Board offers guidelines to help people file insurance claims after a natural disaster, including:
- Act fast and document everything. Those affected should take photos before moving any damaged items. Experts also recommend making claims as soon as possible, because insurance companies work on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Wait before making permanent repairs. An insurance adjustor will visit the property to survey the damage, and residents will need to agree on the value of repairs. Before making temporary repairs to prevent further damage, inform the company.
- Make sure the adjustor represents your insurer. In a widespread disaster, there will be independent insurance adjustors on the scene, which means it’s important to make sure the adjustor works for your insurer. You can also ask for the name of the internal adjustor to whom the independent adjustor is sending information.
- Remember that settlement offers can be negotiated. The insurance company may not be considering regional differences in the costs of materials and labor, for instance.
- Keep a paperwork trail and register complaints in writing. There are places to turn for help, including state insurance commissioners.
Of course, the time to examine the details of your insurance policies is before a disaster. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals can help Americans ensure they are fully covered.
ABOUT CFP BOARD
The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board’s mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 80,000 individuals to use these marks in the U.S.
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