It’s natural. It’s human nature. You don’t really think about this very often. What are we talking about? Water, fire and smoke damage. When you do think about what may happen to your home, and then take action to prepare, what you do is usually minor and easy to do… such as turning off your outside water supply when winter approaches and testing smoke alarms and replacing fire extinguishers on a regular basis. Yet there is one very important action you should take right now in preparation for the unthinkable. That’s right, protecting your important documents, such as your birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers, insurance policies and si Most homeowners keep all their important papers and documents in what they consider a safe place, such as in an organized folder in a home office or secure location where they know exactly where everything is. Unfortunately, that’s not really very safe when there is flooding or fire and smoke. Others might utilize a water and fire proof safe, which is a great idea. Yet there is something additional you can do to 100% guarantee your important documents are safe no matter what happens. Scan them and put them on the “cloud.” You may already do this, and if so, congratulations. No matter what happens to your home, your documents are safe and can be accessed from any device connected to the internet. But if you don’t, get a cloud-based storage account that has plenty of storage space for your needs and start scanning those documents. Keep them organized in online folders, and make sure those in your family who should have access to them have username and passwords they can use in an emergency. You should still keep the originals as safe as you can, of course. And when the unthinkable happens, when you do have a fire, flood or mold damage, don’t forget there is professional assistance for you: Call your disaster restoration pro for help.
A flood, fire and other disasters are devastating to families. Thankfully, there is assistance you can take advantage of. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides help to many of those in need; homeowners and others that need special aid when a disaster strikes. What do you have to do to get assistance? Just ask for it. Here’s how. Although the government and its workers are not always quick to respond, you can get the process started by visiting this link. You can also call the FEMA helpline at (800)621-3362. You will enjoy an automated voice service but be patient and you should have your questions answered. What’s next? After you apply for disaster assistance, FEMA will mail you a copy of your application and a copy of a document entitled “Help After a Disaster.” This is especially helpful if you don’t have insurance coverage for the disaster event your family is facing. This happens more than you think. Here is what FEMA says they will do for you, in part, according to the government website:
- If you do not have insurance: An inspector will contact you after you apply to schedule a time to meet you at your damaged home.
- If you have insurance, you need to file your insurance claim and provide FEMA with a decision letter (settlement or denial) from your insurance company before FEMA issues an inspection.
- There is an exception for damages caused by flooding; if you have flood insurance, FEMA will issue an inspection before receiving a copy of your flood insurance decision letter to evaluate your eligibility for temporary living expenses since these are not covered by flood insurance.
- About 10 days after the inspection FEMA will decide if you qualify for assistance. If so, FEMA will send you a check by mail (or direct deposit) with an explanation of what the money covers (i.e. rent or home repair).
- If FEMA determines that you are ineligible for any reason, you will receive a letter and be given a chance to appeal. Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of the determination. Read the letter carefully for the reason of ineligibility before filing your appeal.