Average FEMA Payment and How to Make a Claim

Disaster area with high water sign

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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide assistance in disaster situations when there is damage that is not covered by the insurance policy.

Eligible Applicants

Homeowners, renters and business owners may be eligible for FEMA assistance and payments when they are in a designated or officially declared disaster area. FEMA payments do not cover basic water damage covered on homeowner policies.

Disaster Types FEMA Covers 

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

Here's an overview of the most recent available data for 2019 according to FEMA, you can check FEMA for a chart of average claim payments made here

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*

*current as of May 31, 2019.

5 Steps to Make a FEMA Claim

You should register with FEMA in order to make a claim, here are 5 steps to take. 

  1. Contact your insurance company or agent to report your claim and loss damage. This is a list of insurance company phone numbers if you do not have it handy. 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.
  3. 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. The adjuster is there to help you document 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. Prepare yourself by collecting any documents you may have relating to the damaged items (receipts, photos, estimates etc) so that your claims process can go as fast as possible. Read more about What to Expect in a Disaster Claim here. You should also have your insurance declaration page for reference. Your adjuster can also help guide you by explaining what you will need to provide. 
  5. You will need to get the insurance company approval for costs of repairs. You will also need to provide a proof of loss in order to get paid. A proof of loss is your sworn statement about the amount of money you are claiming and usually includes supporting documentation. 

Temporary Housing Coverage

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

Renter Eligibility

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.

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

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, however, you can request an advance or partial payment if needed. Be sure and ask about this. 

Payments Applied to Mortgages

By law, a FEMA claim cheque for your building structure may be payable to the mortgage company. You can learn more about the FEMA claims payment process by checking out this visual infographic on FEMA claims settlements. You will have to speak to your mortgage company to find out how they will handle the claim settlement payment and what happens next. Payments for home contents would not go to the mortgage.

Percentage of Losses Covered

Getting fully compensated for a disaster claim that is not fully covered by your home insurance, and requires FEMA assistance is a multi-step process. You won't be getting all your money in one place. FEMA will not pay for all your damage. According to FEMA:

FEMA provides grants to qualified homeowners to repair damage not covered by insurance, but these grants may not pay for  all the damage. However, an SBA disaster loan may return a home to its pre-disaster condition.

4 Costs Covered by DEMA

  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.

FEMA Claims Handbook

The FEMA claims handbook is a valuable resource if you want information about your FEMA claims process. You can access it here