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With the high number of catastrophes last year (and this year’s hurricane season quickly approaching), many people are thinking about what they would do if they were struck by a disaster. Some look to their insurance carriers to address their concerns, while others figure that government assistance, particularly through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), would be sufficient aid. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Individuals often face long delays waiting for FEMA or other government organizations to assist them in managing devastation due to large-scale catastrophes. It is commonly believed that property insurance is not needed due to the assumption that government agencies will come to the rescue. However, insurance is necessary and highly underrated for times such as these. Here’s why.
Government Response Time
FEMA took almost two months to get the payments to the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Owners of destroyed homes waited on promised payments for their immediate needs, yet some payments were delayed by at least three weeks.
There’s a reason for this. Contract inspectors must first verify your damage to get approved for any aid. There are long waits for both inspections and phone assistance. Many individuals waited for up to three hours to even speak to a representative.
It is understandable that any one agency would be swamped after such a large-scale disaster and have trouble helping everyone in such a timely manner, but the fact is that people were stranded for a month waiting for the agency to inspect their damage. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the luxury of waiting a month, or don’t have anywhere else to go during that month.
FEMA is a great organization, but the amount of assistance that it can offer might surprise individuals with its actual amount. Many hurricane victims have been denied from who thought they could turn to for help, or did not receive what they were expecting.
According to the New York Times, 23% of applicants requesting help for the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were denied financial assistance. Most of those denials were from Florida, where 432,000 applications were rejected. Some individuals were offered more financial assistance through community resources, such as their churches, than what FEMA would provide. Many victims were denied any assistance because FEMA claimed the damage was not significant.
The average amount received by homeowners and renters who have lost their home due to disasters is far lower than FEMA’s maximum grant. Hurricane Katrina damage had a total dollar value of 5,252,343,895; however the average payout was only $7,114. The floods of March 2016 in Los Angeles had a total dollar value of $91, 624,157; but the average payout $5,755.
It’s also important to understand the restrictions on FEMA assistance. The agency will assist individuals and families who have lost their homes in presidentially-declared disasters, but secondary homes will not be given aid. In addition, small businesses impacted by presidentially-declared disasters cannot receive assistance.
Trust in Insurance Providers
There are many benefits in choosing to seek help through your trusted insurance provider after a catastrophe. Insurance carriers are quick to respond and get to the catastrophe locations. They offer the proper coverage so they can provide full recovery for the victims of property damage. Also, insurance agents are easy to reach and available for any questions and concerns for something as serious a destroyed home.
There are agents prepared and happy to provide assistance in such a time sensitive and vulnerable situation. Insurance carriers offer personalized service and are able to cater to each individual’s unique financial coverage needs.
Here’s how FEMA puts it: “By law, FEMA assistance cannot duplicate the assistance you receive from your insurance company, but you may receive assistance for items not covered by insurance.”
Assistance from governmental agencies can be helpful, but it’s no substitution for a comprehensive insurance program from a trusted insurance agency. Don’t wait for the disaster to strike to look for someone who can help you. Contact an insurance agent today to ensure that you’ll be completely protected no matter what happens.
About Scott Litman Insurance Agency
At Scott Litman Insurance Agency, we are dedicated to protecting HOA’s like yours. We have a unique understanding of the industry and the common risk exposures that you face in your daily operations. In fact, we find that 90% of the policies we review are missing coverages that violate the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R), exposing the board, HOA and management to lawsuits– which is why our comprehensive policies are tailored to meet your specific needs at competitive prices. For more information about our products, contact our experts today at (855) 999-4505, or fill out our online form.