Jacksonville residents likely do not need to be told about the devastation that natural disasters can bring to communities. A major part of recovering from such events is the repairing or rebuilding of homes so that local residents can resume their normal lives. The cost of completing such repairs, however, can often be inordinate. People in these cases rely on their insurance providers (or in some cases, state or federal assistance programs) to help shoulder those costs. Yet as anyone who has had to file a homeowners or property insurance claim can attest to, such matters may rarely be resolved quickly. 

That had not been the case, however, with federal disaster relief programs until recently. Reports showed that people applying for home inspections through the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Rita only had to wait an average of two weeks for those to be completed. The average wait time to speak to a FEMA representative to file a claim following Hurricane Katrina was only 10 minutes. Yet with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria having hit in such rapid succession recently (coupled with the widespread wildfires in California), people affected by these disasters are having to wait weeks for assistance. Florida residents in particular have reported having to wait on hold for hours just to talk with someone. While the massive backlog of claims FEMA is facing may be understandable due to its resources being stretched so thin, those who have submitted theirs are now facing the potential of having assistance denied. Of the 1.8 million submitted since Irma, 432,000 have been rejected after properties were determined to not have sustained storm damage significant enough to warrant assistance. 

Those needing to dispute claim denials with private insurers or public agencies may want to seek out the services of an experienced attorney. 

Source: The New York Times “Still Waiting for FEMA in Texas and Florida After Hurricanes” Fernandez, Manny, Alvarez, Lizette and Nixon, Ron, Oct. 22, 2017