Average FEMA Payment and How to Make a Claim

Disaster area with high water sign
•••

Eric Overton / Getty Images

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide assistance in disaster situations when there is damage that is not covered by the insurance policy. Homeowners, renters, and business owners may be eligible for FEMA assistance and payments when they are in a designated or officially declared disaster area.

If you are thinking about making a claim for water damage not covered by insurance, or damage caused by a disaster like a hurricane, flood after a wildfire, or flood-related water damage, FEMA has a claims handbook that may be a good resource for you. You can also learn more about general insurance claim basics here.

Average Claim Payments

Below is an overview of the most recent available data for the average claim payments made by FEMA.

Average Claims Paid By FEMA 2018–2019
Month  Average FEMA Claim Amount Paid
March 2018 $27,611
April 2018 $47,082
May 2018 $28,893
June 2018 $45,439
July 2018 $20,665 
August 2018 $35,678
September 2018 $45,671 
October 2018 $53,999
November 2018 $21,365
December 2018 $29,090
January 2019 $16,118
February 2019 $16,348*
March 2019 $39,915
April 2019 $27,559
May 2019 $44,457
June 2019 $41,214
July 2019 $36,124
August 2019 $19,584
September 2019 $21,681

Five Steps to Make a FEMA Claim

After registering with FEMA, here are five steps to take to make a FEMA claim:

  1. Contact your insurance company or agent to report your claim and loss damage. If you do not know who your insurance agent is, you can contact FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362).
  2. Take photos of damaged property inside and around your property. You will need all the evidence and proof you can get, so be diligent during this process.
  3. Meet with an insurance adjuster. An insurance adjuster will be assigned to you, and you should hear from them within 24–48 hours to come and visit your property. They will help in the collection of information for the claims process, as well as documenting your claim. The adjuster will not approve or decline coverage to you directly or tell you about other forms of assistance you may qualify for.
  4. Collect documents relating to the damaged items. Having all relevant documents—such as receipts, photos, estimates, etc.—handy speeds up the claims process. Your adjuster can also help guide you by explaining what you will need to provide.
  5. Get proof of loss. A proof of loss is your sworn statement about the amount of money you are claiming and usually includes supporting documentation. Your insurance adjuster may provide the proof of loss form and help you complete it if necessary. You will need this to get paid.

You must provide your signed proof of loss within 60 days. In exceptional circumstances, FEMA may allow for extensions, but you should be sure and verify your deadline for providing your proof of loss with your adjuster and insurance company.

Housing Coverage and Eligibility

FEMA does not cover additional living expenses or money to pay for your temporary housing. However, if you do not have the means to provide for your temporary housing, you may qualify for the FEMA Assistance to Individuals and Households program. Renters may apply for a grant from FEMA to replace damaged personal contents if not insured by their primary insurance coverage and may also qualify for an SBA disaster loan.

Waiting Periods

The first step in getting paid is collecting all the necessary documentation needed for your proof of loss. Once your proof of loss is signed and provided to the adjuster, they can get started on the claim payment part of the process. It may take a while for you to get paid on a FEMA claim, but you can request an advance or partial payment if needed. Be sure and ask about this.

Four Costs Covered by FEMA

Below are the four types of costs covered by FEMA:

  1. Temporary housing as discussed above
  2. Emergency home repairs
  3. Uninsured and underinsured personal property 
  4. Medical, dental, funeral expenses

How Payments Are Calculated

The claim payment is based on your actual loss and damage declared in your proof of loss. The sooner you submit proof of loss, the faster you receive payments. If you discover additional damage after you submit your proof of loss, you should contact your adjuster and insurance company to request additional payments by submitting another proof of loss within the 60-day limit.

Article Sources

  1. Department of Homeland Security. "DisasterAssistant.gov Find Local Resources." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  2. FEMA. "NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook," Download Flood Insurance Claims Handbook." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  3. FEMA. "Average Claim Payments by Date of Loss." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  4. FEMA. "Contact." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  5. FEMA. "Proof of Loss." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  6. FEMA. "Assistance to Individuals and Households-Individuals and Households Program (IHP) Fact Sheet." Accessed March 15, 2020.

  7. FEMA. "Fact Sheet: Frequently Asked Questions about FEMA Individual Assistance." Accessed March 15, 2020.