Hurricane Victims Should Apply for Assistance Even with Insurance

October 11, 2005

Individuals with insurance who were affected by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita are urged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management to apply for assistance. Even insured individuals may be eligible for several types of disaster assistance.

“We want everyone affected and qualified for assistance to receive help as quickly as possible,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Davies. “By law, we cannot duplicate what insurance already covers. But in some cases, we may be able to help, up to our program limits.”

Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, uninsurable items and other serious disaster-related needs, and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for homeowners and renters as well as business owners.

“Call to register with FEMA now,” said Frank Cantu, state coordinating officer. “Then call after receiving your insurance settlement and update your information.”

Individuals can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) for answers to their questions about federal assistance, the same number they called to register for aid. The TTY number for the speech or hearing impaired is 1-800-462-7585. FEMA cannot duplicate what insurance already covers or pay deductibles. Applicants will be asked to submit proof of the settlement.

Davies gave examples of what FEMA may cover for insured victims: expenses for renting a hotel room while a home is inaccessible or uninhabitable if insurance does not cover that cost, and items that are uninsurable, such as wells or septic tanks, or the costs of obtaining access to one’s home.

People who have insurance and have applied for assistance may receive a letter from FEMA telling them they are not eligible at this time because they are insured. People who get a letter denying assistance because of insurance should consider calling FEMA again at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) after their insurance claim is settled.

If individuals are not satisfied with FEMA’s decision on their application, an appeal can be filed in writing to FEMA Appeals Officer, National Processing Service Center, P.O.Box 10055 Hyattsville, Md. 20782.

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