FEMA Assistance vs. Insurance Coverage After a Louisiana Hurricane

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Louisiana is a magnet for severe storms, with several of the worst hurricanes in history hitting our state. Experts say the 2022 hurricane season is likely to be busy, which unfortunately means thousands of homeowners could need help recovering from a storm. Now is the time to prepare for a hurricane in louisiana by reviewing your landlord’s insurance policy and learning about other means of recovery. This way you will know what to expect after a hurricane.

Sometimes private insurance is the only way to recover property damaged by a hurricane. At other times, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be available to provide additional assistance. FEMA is a government agency established in 1979 to assist in disaster response. The agency offers federal government support after disasters such as fires, winter storms, terrorist attacks, earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. FEMA only steps in after the president makes a disaster declaration.

Contrary to popular belief, FEMA is not just for uninsured or low-income people. The organization offers help to everyone affected by a storm, regardless of income or whether or not they have private insurance. However, it is essential to know that FEMA assistance is not as comprehensive as what you would receive from an insurance settlement. There are key differences in the benefits offered by home insurance coverage and FEMA assistance.

What is the difference between FEMA and insurance?

Homeowner’s insurance coverage and FEMA provide assistance after a hurricane, but their scope differs. FEMA assistance is not designed to reimburse you for all losses. Instead, the agency helps make a property “safe, sanitary and functional”. FEMA covers damages that homeowners and flood insurance do not cover. FEMA will help make your home suitable to live in, but it won’t account for all the damage your property and possessions suffered during the storm. The agency’s help is also available to tenants, whether or not they have rental insurance.

FEMA could pay for repairs such as roof leaks, broken windows, damaged subfloors, heating and air conditioning units, and kitchen appliances. The average FEMA payout is $8,000 or less, which is nominal compared to the damages a homeowner could sustain after a storm like hurricane Ida with winds of 150 miles per hour.

In contrast, most home insurance policies provide compensation for damaged furniture, clothing, personal effects, appliances, and electronics, while ensuring your property is safe and functional. An insurance settlement is often necessary to restore your home to its previous condition. FEMA is designed to make your home livable, not to help you fully recover. Also, FEMA does not provide benefits for anything your insurance company covers, so you must file an insurance claim before receiving FEMA assistance.

Flood insurance policies

A common myth is that a basic Louisiana homeowners insurance policy provides flood coverage. While coastal cities are at high risk of flooding during a hurricane, heavy rains often wreak havoc in inland areas in the midst of a storm. Louisiana has the highest proportion of flood insurance policies in the United States, but flood coverage is not required by law. People tend to believe that high winds are the most damaging element of a hurricane, but hurricane flooding causes structural damage and, unfortunately, loss of life. FEMA provides federal flood relief. However, homeowners should also consider flood-specific policies to be fully covered if hurricane damage is caused by flooding.

How to Apply for FEMA Assistance

The first part of filing a claim with FEMA is ensuring the storm has been declared a federal disaster. If you have insurance, you should file a claim with your insurer before seeking FEMA assistance, although you don’t have to wait for a settlement to apply. The app is available on assistancecatastrophe.gov. Just like an insurance claim, you must take photos and provide a detailed list of your losses. The agency also asks for an insurance determination letter to ensure that it does not cover any damage insurance that it has agreed to reimburse.

Even when you go through the proper channels and make a claim through your private insurance, sometimes they don’t provide the help they should. Insurance companies often give low estimates after a storm, so it’s essential to know your rights. The Louisiana Hurricane Lawyers at Herman, Herman & Katz are here to help individuals and businesses manage Louisiana hurricane insurance claims. If you have questions about insurance coverage or a denied claim, contact us online or call (844) 943-7626 for more information or a free case review.

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