Disaster Recovery and Your Money: A Basic To-Do List
Rebounding financially from a disaster can take months or years. Here are tips that can help speed the recovery.
Report property damage to your property insurance company or agent as soon as possible. Don’t throw away damaged goods or make major repairs until a claims adjuster visits your residence. Also keep receipts for emergency repairs.
Look into federal assistance for survivors of natural disasters. This may include special loans for homeowners, small business owners or farmers to use to repair or replace damaged property. Visit www.disasterassistance.gov to learn more. You can also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).
Immediately contact your creditors if you don’t think you can pay your bills or make credit card or loan payments on time. Paying your debts late or not at all can result in penalties, interest charges and damage to your credit score. Your creditors will likely work with you on a solution, but it’s important to contact them as soon as possible and explain your situation.
If you have additional concerns or a complaint with a business such as a financial institution or an insurance company, be proactive. First contact the firm directly. If that doesn’t produce the desired results, you may contact the appropriate federal or state regulatory agency for help or guidance.
To locate a bank or other depository institution’s federal regulator, call the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC, which is 1-877-275-3342. To locate your state’s insurance regulator, go to www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm on the Web site of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). You can also go to another NAIC Web site — https://eapps.naic.org/cis/fileComplaintMap.do — to file a complaint with the state.
And, to follow up on disputes with other entities, such as contractors, consider contacting your state Attorney General’s office (www.naag.org/current-attorneys-general.php) or your state or local consumer affairs office (www.consumeraction.gov/state.shtml).
Seek help from non-profit organizations in your area. Their financial assistance programs may include services such as counseling, free legal assistance, and low-interest business loans.