If your home sustained flood damage during Hurricane Irma and you have insurance coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), it is important to make sure that you have the latest information about filing NFIP claims from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here is a summary of some important updates that FEMA announced shortly after the storm:

1. Initial Proof of Loss Not Required

Under normal circumstances, the first step involved in filing a flood damage claim under the NFIP is to submit a form known as an initial Proof of Loss. However, FEMA has waived this requirement for homeowners affected by Hurricane Irma. FEMA has authorized an expedited process which involves:

  • Filing your flood damage claim and having your property inspected by an adjuster; this adjuster will then submit a report to your insurer.
  • If you disagree with the insurer’s assessment, or if the payment you receive is insufficient to cover the damage to your home, you can challenge the adjuster’s determination for up to one year. However, in order to do so, you must submit a Proof of Loss.

2. Grace Period for Expired NFIP Flood Insurance Policies

If your flood insurance policy expired between August 7 and October 6, you can renew your policy within 120 days of expiration and still obtain coverage for Hurricane Irma. In order to receive coverage, you must ensure that your premium payments are up to date. As stated by FEMA: “The NFIP cannot pay a claim for a flood loss that occurs after a policy expiration date unless the policyholder’s insurance company receives the payment in full for renewal on or before the last day of the grace period.”

This extension is available to homeowners in Broward County and the other counties identified in the Hurricane Irma Major Disaster Declaration.

3. Advance Payments Available to South Florida Homeowners

For homeowners with NFIP coverage, FEMA has issued a mandate for insurance companies to issue advance payments of up to $20,000. According to FEMA’s website:

  • “When a policyholder contacts his/her insurer and verifies his/her identity, he/she can receive an advance payment for up to $5,000 on a flood claim without an adjuster visit or additional documentation. When the advance payment is issued, a letter is sent to the policyholder which explains that by accepting this payment the policyholder is certifying the damage.”
  • “Up to $20,000 may be advanced to a policyholder who provides photos and/or videos depicting damage, and receipts validating out-of-pocket expenses related to flood loss or a contractor’s itemized estimate. Policyholders with significant damage who have a contractor’s itemized estimate may be eligible for a larger advance payment and should discuss this with the adjuster.”

Advance payments may only be used for repairs and replacements consistent with the terms of your NFIP policy, and may not be used for temporary housing or living expenses.

For new updates, information about disaster recovery centers in South Florida, and more, you can follow FEMA’s near-daily News Releases.

Speak with a Property Damage Attorney in Fort Lauderdale, FL

The attorneys at Saavedra | Goodwin represent South Florida home and business owners in coverage disputes with their insurance companies. If you are struggling to secure payment and would like to learn more about your rights, you can call (954) 767-6333 or send us a message online to schedule an initial consultation.