After a natural disaster, such as a winter storm, hurricane, tornado, or wildfire, we understand that your first priority is the safety and well-being of you and your loved ones. Among all of the challenges that may follow, there are steps available to help ensure your home and finances are protected.
Three steps you can take include:
- Filing claims with insurance providers for damages related to the disaster.
- Applying for mortgage assistance with us.
- Registering for disaster assistance with state and federal agencies. (This assistance may cover expenses that your insurance company doesn’t.)
Here are a few tips to help you through the process of taking these three steps.
Filing an insurance claim
1. Contact your homeowners insurance provider. Start the claim process by providing details to your insurance carrier(s) of the damage and loss sustained as a result of the disaster. If flood damage occurred and your flood insurance is provided through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can find information on starting a claim with them and your insurance company at FloodSmart.gov/start. If you’re facing long hold times, bear in mind that many insurers allow customers to start claims online or via their mobile apps. They may also have mobile claims centers for you to visit.
If you are able to do so, document damage before making any repairs to the property and keep photos and videos for your records. Your insurer may also allow you to report this damage quickly and remotely via live video captured on your smartphone. If you’re concerned about documenting roof and other exterior damage safely, see if your insurance company can use a drone or satellite images to aid in the process.
Throughout the claims process, save receipts related to any repairs and other costs incurred after the disaster (for example, living expenses). These efforts will potentially help in discussions with your insurance carrier in resolving the claim.
2. If your loss is covered, your insurance provider will assign an adjuster to your claim. The adjuster will work with you to assess the property damage and come up with an estimate of the repair costs.
3. Once the adjuster’s cost estimate is complete, your insurance company will send a loss draft check (or claim check) to you to pay for repairs. This check will be made payable to both you and Mr. Cooper. Once you receive the check, please contact us for instructions on the handling of the check. Typically, you will need to endorse the check and forward it to us. We will then either endorse the check and return it to you OR deposit the check into a loss draft account and then issue you a new check.
4. Depending upon the loan status at the time of the disaster or the amount of the loss draft check, we may require additional documentation before releasing the insurance funds. Along with the endorsed insurance claim check, some of the typical documents we may require include:
- Insurance company adjuster’s worksheet
- Signed contract/proposal with your contractor
- Contractor’s waiver of lien
- Contractor’s W-9
- Copy of the contractor’s license
While you work directly with your insurance provider, our customer service team is here to help you with every step in the insurance claim process. You can reach our Loss Draft Department at 866-825-9302 for assistance. For more information on the process, see our Claim Package as well.
Applying for mortgage assistance
1. Call us at 888-480-2432. Tell us how you have been affected and provide us with updated contact information, if you have been temporarily relocated.
2. If your home or income was impacted by the disaster, we may be able to provide you with additional assistance. Depending on your loan, this assistance may include a Disaster Forbearance Plan with benefits, such as:
- Suspended or reduced mortgage payments for a period of time
- Credit protections
- No late fees
Registering for additional disaster assistance
1. Register for federal disaster assistance—especially if you’re underinsured. To register, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362). (For TTY calls, dial 800-642-7585.) The government recommends taking this step whether or not your home is in an official disaster area, as undeclared areas can be added at a later date (you can check for updates on declared areas with FEMA’s search tool here). With this assistance, you may be eligible for benefits and resources that are not covered by your insurance company.
2. Look into additional options offered by your state or local agencies. Contact agencies such as your:
- State’s and county’s emergency management offices
- Department of health and human services
- Governor’s office
They may provide access to resources other than those provided by the federal government or your insurance company. You can find helpful resources like these at www.fema.gov/locations by entering your city and state or zip code. Once your state’s page appears, select the “Helpful Resources” option. USA.gov also links to local resources here.
3. Reach out to helpful organizations. Non-profits and other organizations may be willing to assist you. Here are some helpful sources that provide more information:
- Red Cross – Visit the Get Help section of their website or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
- United Way –Visit the 211 section of their website for disaster assistance resources or call 2-1-1.
- Salvation Army – Visit the Disaster Relief section of their website.
Beware that scammers may try to take advantage of you in your time of need and pose as a non-profit or government official. Home repair scams and price gouging efforts also increase after natural disasters. That said, consider finding a contractor through a recommendation from someone who can vouch for their work, obtain multiple offers, and finalize the agreement in writing. Also, be on guard for contractors who ask for large amounts of money upfront or provide very low bids. More tips are available here.
By making the most of every opportunity open to you, we hope you will walk away from a natural disaster financially sound and with your dream of homeownership secure. Whenever you need us, we will be here to help you.