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How to document damage for FEMA claim

Monday August 22, 2016 09:51 am

Though Terrebonne did not sustain significant damages in the recent floods, it is always good to have a plan for documenting flood damage whenever it occurs.  Below are some tips for documenting the damages from a flood event. 

How to document damage for FEMA claim 

FEMA said there are several steps homeowners with flood damage should take as they clear their homes.

The first step homeowners should take is to turn off power to the home at the main breaker box.

Then, take pictures of everything you can. You should stand in the middle of each room and take pictures in every direction.

As items are being removed from the home, have someone at the door making a list of every single item that leaves the home and save that for the claims process.

After items are outside, take photos of the debris piles.

FEMA says it is important to register for FEMA help as soon as possible so that an inspector can get to your home and begin the claims process. People can register by calling 1-800-621-3362 or by going online to

FEMA says the agency cannot duplicate insurance coverage. So, if your insurance coverages something, FEMA cannot also cover it. FEMA can, however, help with immediate needs such as housing, medication and vital items like wheelchairs or false teeth that might have been lost or damaged.

Other tips for FEMA and Insurance Claims:

Keep copies of all the pictures you have.  Do not give your original pictures to the insurance agents or FEMA.  Be sure to keep an electronic copy that is safe even if that means sending them to a relative elsewhere or a safe deposit box. 

Write down everything you can, particularly if you did not have an inventory of the serial numbers and types of contents or fixtures in the house prior to the flood. 

If your insurance company provides a check that you do not believe is what you should receive, call your agent.  Before cashing the check, see if it is the final payment, or an interim check to help as the full claim is assessed.

Take your own pictures.  Do not rely on FEMA or the insurance company to keep a photographic record of the damages. 

If you disagree with the amount of money the insurance company wants to provide, communicate in writing with documentation showing the cost of repairs and damages.  There are strict timelines, and even if you have spoken on the phone or written that it is “not enough,” without further information in writing showing how much you think the loss should be valued and why, you can lose your ability to receive the proper amount. 

KEEP A COPY OF EVERY WRITTEN DOCUMENT from the insurance company, FEMA or from you. 

Adapted from original article Tuesday, August 16th 2016, 1:00 pm CDTTuesday, August 16th 2016, 3:27 pm CDT WAFB Staff