Hurricane Michael devastated communities in Florida and southern parts of Georgia in October 2018. Since then, federal agencies have committed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to people affected by the storm.FEMA has approved more than $100 million in housing assistance, and the Small Business Administration has approved over $157.2 million in disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses.
If you’re a Hurricane Michael survivor living in a designated disaster area, there’s still time to submit an application for federal aid. The deadline for individuals and households to apply for Hurricane Michael disaster assistance is Dec. 10.
Money from FEMA doesn’t take the place of insurance and is not meant to completely rebuild your home, but the aid could help you get back on your feet. Review your insurance policy to find out what’s covered for repairing and replacing damaged property. Damage that won’t be covered by your insurance could be restored with a low-interest disaster relief loan.
Here are some more resources that can help.
Answers to insurance questions after Hurricane Michael
Home and wind insurance
Home insurance covers loss or damage to your home and personal property after events like theft or fire. A home insurance policy may cover accidental injury or death as well. Home insurance policies typically do not provide coverage for damage caused by floods.
Flood insurance is a policy that specifically covers flood-related loss. Flood insurance can be bought through private insurers or the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance comes in two parts — building coverage and contents coverage. Building coverage insures the foundation, electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning, furnaces, some appliances and more. Contents coverage covers personal property like furniture, electronics and other valuables.
Flood insurance isn’t required for all homeowners, but it is required for homes in high-risk flood zones that have mortgages from federally regulated lenders.
Florida has many moderate to high-risk flood zones, so many homeowners affected by Hurricane Michael likely have at least the minimum coverage required by law.
The National Flood Insurance Program has several resources available to help you understand how flood insurance works. If you have insurance through the NFIP, you can learn about the coverage and start the claims process at FloodSmart.gov.
Hurricane and windstorm deductible
For areas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, a deductible for hurricanes and windstorms may be part of your home insurance policy. A deductible is the amount of money you pay before insurance kicks in and starts paying for damages.
A hurricane and windstorm deductible is often a percentage of your home’s value instead of a flat rate like other deductibles. The storm deductible is separate from the deductible for other perils (like theft, fire, etc.).
This deductible should not be confused with flood insurance. Unlike flood insurance, the hurricane or windstorm deductible offers protection when rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand or wind causes damage to your exterior or interior. Flooding is a separate issue.
Who can I call for insurance assistance?
Georgia Office of Insurance helpline
Florida residents can call the Florida Department of Financial Services Insurance Consumer Helpline at 1-877-693-5236 with insurance-related questions. The state of Florida has quite a bit of information online to help residents recover from Hurricane Michael as well. The disaster preparedness resources page on the Florida’s Department of Financial Services website explains what to do after a disaster, what to expect when you file a claim, where you can find shelters and other information.
Georgia residents with insurance questions or complaints about a policy can visit the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner website or call the office at 1-800-656-2298.
Learn more about how flood insurance and disaster relief work in our complete guide.
Answers to financing questions after Hurricane Michael
A loan can help you finance repairs and damages that are not covered by insurance and other resources. SBA disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters and business owners in eligible counties to repair or replace real estate and personal property.
For business owners specifically, the Florida Small Business Emergency Loan Program in Florida was established after Hurricane Michael to offer short-term, interest-free loans to business owners waiting for insurance claims or federal assistance. The deadline to apply for this program is Dec. 7. Business owners can learn more here.
There’s also FHA Disaster Relief available for homeowners who can’t make payments on their FHA-insured mortgage in Florida’s Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor or Wakulla counties. FHA Disaster Relief may offer a 90-day moratorium on foreclosure. Call FHA’s Resource center at 1-800-304-9320 for details.
Other financing options for homeowners after Hurricane Michael include FHA 203(h) loans, FHA 203(k) loans, USDA Home Repair program, VA rehab loans and Fannie Mae HomeStyle® Renovation mortgages. Learn more about how these options help you after a natural disaster here.
Filing for federal disaster assistance after Hurricane Michael
Currently, FEMA.gov lists the following counties in Florida and Georgia as disaster areas where individuals may be able to get disaster assistance:
You can apply for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or over the phone. The Disaster Assistance Helpline number is 1-800-621-3362 and it’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, seven days a week. Disaster Recovery Centers are available for in-person assistance, as well, if you have questions about your case. Search for the nearest center on the FEMA.gov website or text DRC and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). The deadline for individuals to apply for disaster assistance is Dec. 10.
Residents of Florida are no strangers to hurricanes, but that doesn’t make the damage any less catastrophic. Fortunately, there’s insurance, financial assistance, disaster loans and other support to help you recover.
The DisasterAssistance.gov is a main hub for disaster relief information. Florida offers a wealth of information about Hurricane Michael and how to handle insurance claims at the Chief Financial Officer’s website. You can learn more about disaster assistance in Georgia here.