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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on September 17, 2008 10:17 PM.

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Tips for Dealing with Personal Disaster Recovery

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Following Hurricane Katrina, I learned a lot about dealing with insurance companies and with FEMA. Here are just a few things to keep in mind as you begin dealing with these entities yourself.

Even if you already have a home loan, apply for an SBA loan. Use it to pay off your existing loan. The interest rate will be cheaper plus you may get up to a year of no payments.

Protecting your SSN
Call the three major credit bureaus and have them put a security freeze on your account. Every state is different, but the majority is $10 per agency (senior citizens and victims of identity theft can do it for free). The links and phone numbers below are to each credit bureaus Security Freeze page.

Transunion: 1-888-909-8872

Equifax: 1-888-766-0008

Experian: 1 888 397 3742

You can also check with the agencies about placing a fraud alert on your account. This is good for 90 days, should be free. Experian lets you do it online but I didn't see a link for the others.

When dealing with FEMA it is best to go to a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) and talk with someone in person. These people are simply clerks that can interpret your file and help you fill out any paperwork that FEMA requires. They can't tell you whether you will be approved for any assistance or not.

Benefit to going to them is that they will make double check any forms that are required, make sure they are filled out completely, make copies for you, and send everything overnight, all for free.

If you are waiting on a response for FEMA, call them at least once every two weeks (government just doesn't work any faster).

Be sure to file a claim with both homeowners and flood insurance. Let them tell you which policy will cover what (flood has a lower deductible than homeowners, so it kicks in faster). Be sure you get a direct contact number for every adjustor you deal with. If you keep getting a different adjuster (you shouldn't have more than two adjustors: one for homeowners and one for flood, even if both are carried by the same company), call your agent and complain, that's what they are there for.

If you're waiting on a response from the insurance co., call them (adjustor, agent) at least once a week.



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