The State of Florida has experienced several natural disasters including but not limited to hurricanes and tropical storms, wildfires, droughts and flooding. It is absolutely crucial for all homeowners, landlords, investors, and renters alike to be aware of the risks, processes and steps to rebuild when a natural disaster occurs. In the following article, Paul Turovsky, a residential and commercial real estate agent with Emerald Realty International, explains what individuals should expect from their insurance agencies, their mortgage lender in the case of an uncontrollable disaster and governmental aid.

Recently, the State of Florida experienced one of the worst natural disasters it has had in history, Hurricane Ian. Hurricane Ian began in the Caribbean and hurtled across the state of Florida before battering parts of South Carolina and Georgia, was one of the worst natural disasters to occur in the United States in recent years.

With the reports that around 80,000 people have been affected by flooding alone, concern now turns to how people can deal with the aftermath of such a disaster. Paul Turovsky says “hundreds of billions of dollars will be needed for people to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Ian, but where do they start, especially when their homes have been destroyed?”

Safety is the First Concern

“Making sure that your entire family including pets are safe after a hurricane or any natural disaster is always of paramount importance” says Paul Turovsky. Material possessions can always be replaced, but you cannot replace human or animal life.

Safety includes having access to clean water and being away from live power lines. So, even if a house has managed to avoid too much structural damage and is safe to live in, damage in the surrounding area may still render it uninhabitable. If local authorities recommend evacuation from the area, this should be heeded.

Mr. Turovsky explains that for times when phone and internet lines are down, the American Red Cross can help. Citizens from all over the world can ask for their details to be logged on the ARC’s Safe and Well Website. They have an app and website for those who have phone signal.

Once everyone’s safely accounted for, it’s time to take the next steps.

Call the Insurance Company

After a natural disaster occurs, it is safe to say that insurance providers will be fully aware of recent weather events and will be inundated with calls. Although you have a significant period of time to file a claim, it is important, to call your provider as soon as you can so that they have the details of your damage and are able to help you explains Paul Turovsky.

Home insurance providers will deal with structural damage to your property in addition to personal possessions. In cases of a flood, a flood insurance carrier will become the primary contact for the damage associated with the flood. If you had a vehicle damaged, you can contact your vehicle insurance company.

Depending on coverage, a claimant may be entitled to temporary accommodation support including but not limited to the cost of room and board and food associated with the disposition of the claimant.

Be Patient When Waiting for the Claims Adjuster

Insurance companies will eventually get around to every single home or property on their claims list. However, when hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by a natural disaster, it can take some time for a representative to make contact and come to your home explains Paul Turovsky.

It is wise for homeowners to start surveying the damage and noting down specifics about the home, including damage inflicted, possessions destroyed, and possessions missing. Taking pictures before and after these disasters are also extremely helpful.

Most insurance companies are already prepared for the influx of calls and will send out Proof of Loss forms to the affected areas. Whatever damage or loss is caused, it should be noted on this form. If anything is forgotten even after the form has been submitted, it can be added later.

Paul TurovskyMortgages Must Still be Paid

Paul Turovsky says that it can be easy to assume that mortgage payments on a house would stop if the house no longer exists, or if it is not safe for habitation. However, this is not the case. Mortgage companies are not related to insurance companies and mortgage payments must still be made per their regular schedule.

This does not mean that mortgage companies will not be aware of the financial difficulties some of their clients are in after the natural disaster occurred. It is important to contact your mortgage lender and discuss options like a forbearance where payments can be reduced or even paused for several months, to allow affected individuals to get back on their feet.

Without up keeping payments, individuals risk damage to their credit rating or even a foreclosure of their home or property. A phone call to the mortgage company is essential explains Paul Turovsky.

Government Aid

Not everyone has home insurance and the government has several programs in place to assist those in need after a natural disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can help to provide shelter, emergency living costs and ongoing support including rental assistance if damaged or destroyed homes remain inaccessible.

FEMA also provide crisis counselling, legal services, help for families with children, and a host of other services; links to these can be found on their website.

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