Disaster & Flood Resource Center
Need Help Now? Call the DFS Disaster Hotline: (800) 339-1759
Disaster Preparation Tips
It is important to take steps to be ready for the potential damage that severe storms can cause. By doing things like checking your insurance policies, moving valuable objects to upper floors and inspecting any trees on your property before severe weather hits, you’ll be better prepared.
Make a home inventory of your personal property. Photos and video of your home, as well as sales receipts and the model and serial numbers of items, will make filing a claim easier. Add insurance information to your inventory information - the name of your insurance company and agent, policy numbers and contact information. Your insurance provider should be able to provide you with a sample inventory to use or you can use our Home Inventory Checklist to help you get started.
See our Storm-Preparedness Tips for more steps you should take to help make sure your home is storm ready and your property is adequately insured.
Flood & Flood Insurance Information
While floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, insurance coverage for losses from floods is not provided in standard homeowners or tenants policies. Insurance for flood damages is generally available under a separate policy issued through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and available to homeowners, renters and businesses.
Filing a Claim After a Loss
- File Claims Promptly. File claims as soon as possible after losses occur.
- Provide All Documentation. Ask your insurance company exactly what documents, forms, and data they will need you to submit.
- Flood Damage Claims. Flood damage is typically only covered by flood insurance, obtained via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you have flood insurance and have flood damage, file claims with the insurer that sold you the policy. If you purchased a policy directly from NFIP, you should contact them directly.
- Keep Detailed Records. Keep a record of all conversations with your insurer, include the agent’s name and times and dates of all calls.
- Follow Up. Follow up with the Insurer or agent in writing, reflecting your understanding of in-person or telephone conversations. After an adjuster visit, follow up in writing reflecting your understanding of the adjuster visit.
- Document Losses. Take photos and/or videos showing the extent of the damage and losses before cleaning anything up.
- Take Inventory. Provide your insurer with a detailed room-by-room inventory of damaged personal items and property. Include receipts, credit card statements and any other documents showing item values.
- Emergency Repairs. Property owners are responsible for protecting their property from further damage after a loss, but should make only repairs necessary to prevent further damage to property, like covering broken windows. Save receipts showing emergency repairs.
- Permanent Repairs. Permanent repairs should not be made until insurers have inspected losses. All damaged personal property should be kept until an insurance settlement has been reached.
- If You Relocate, Keep Your Receipts. If you need relocate while your home is being repaired, keep records of your expenses. Homeowner and renter insurance policies generally cover the cost of additional living expenses if your home is damaged by an insured disaster.
- Disaster Assistance. When a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance is made, FEMA disaster assistance may be available to both insured and uninsured individuals and businesses, when settlements may not meet disaster related needs. Reporting damage to local officials does NOT qualify you for FEMA aid. You must contact FEMA directly to sign up for FEMA aid.
- Small Business. FEMA’s Small Business Administration (SBA) also offers low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses, and some nonprofit organizations.
Adjusters, Appraisers & Umpires
After you declare a loss, an adjuster will be sent by your insurance company to examine damage and provide an estimate of the cost of repair or replacement. If you reach an impasse in negotiating a settlement with your insurance company, you may want to consult an attorney or hire a licensed public adjuster to act on your behalf. If an agreement cannot be reached, your policy provides for an appraisal process. Every homeowner, tenant, cooperative apartment and condominium policy issued in New York contains a provision for you and your company to select a competent and disinterested appraiser. Your insurer will select one as well. The two appraisers, in turn, select an umpire. Learn more about adjusters, appraisers & umpires...
Protect Your Credit
While assessing property damage, calling your insurance company and applying for disaster assistance may be your top priorities following a disaster, steps to protect your credit should also be taken to keep late payments and debts from hurting your credit and credit score.
Protect Your Credit
Though calling your insurance company and applying for disaster assistance may be your top priorities following a disaster, steps to protect your credit should also be taken to keep late payments and debts from hurting your credit and credit score.
Contact your bank and other creditors. Most banks and lenders have recovery procedures in place for customers impacted by disasters. They may even reach out to let you know they're aware of the of the issue and what they may be doing for customers who are affected. Your creditors may be able to do even more for you if they know about your specific situation, such as payment assistance programs or temporary moratoriums on payment. Each lender is different, so contact all of them. Keep a detailed record of these conversations, and ask for it in writing if your creditor agrees to a major change to your payment agreement.
Add a personal statement to your credit report. You can file a statement with the three credit reporting agencies explaining that you were affected by a disaster and how it may have lowered your credit. This will not affect your credit score, but will let anyone who pulls your report know what happened.
Avoid Storm Recovery Scams
Protect yourself from scam artists who may try to take advantage of homeowners who suffered property damage in a storm, or who may claim to be part of disaster assistance efforts.
How DFS Can Help
Help with a Bank or Mortgage Issue
DFS works with banks and financial institutions to eliminate excessive fees, prevent foreclosures, and encourage loan and mortgage forbearance for those affected by disasters. We also work to help expedite endorsement of insurance claims checks by banks to homeowners in urgent need of disaster-related repairs. If you are unable to close on a loan or mortgage due to severe weather, we may also be able to help you avoid adverse consequences, such as late fees for changes in the terms.
Help with Insurance
DFS can answer questions about agents, brokers and adjustor's, the claims process (including hurricane and wind deductibles), policy cancellation, and non-renewal, and coverage for additional living expenses, (which you may be entitled to if you are displaced after a disaster). If your business has been affected by a disaster, we can also answer questions about coverage, business interruption insurance and off-premises service interruption coverage.
Have a storm or disaster-related problem that you cannot resolve with your Insurer or Bank? Call our Consumer Hotline at (800) 342-3736 (Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM). Local calls can be made to (212) 480-6400 or (518) 474-6600 or File a complaint with DFS.
More Disaster Recovery Resources
New York Rising Recovery
New York State, working with the federal government, offers programs that assist eligible homeowners, rental property owners, and small business owners who are victims of Hurricanes Sandy, Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.
- Website: www.stormrecovery.ny.gov
- Phone: (855) 697-7263
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
If a federal disaster declaration is issued for a disaster, you can apply to FEMA for disaster assistance. You may apply for this disaster assistance whether you have insurance or not.
Storm Sandy Mediation Program
DFS has designated the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to provide mediation services for eligible homeowners, renters and business owners who either dispute their Storm Sandy insurance claims results or are dissatisfied with denials of their claims.
- Website: www.adr.org
- Phone: (877) 568-9045
US Small Business Administration
- Website: www.sba.gov
- Phone: (800) 659-2955
National Flood Insurance Program
- Website: www.floodsmart.gov
- Phone: (800) 427-4661