FEMA: “What’s In It for You?”

FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was created specifically to provide financial and other recovery assistance when disaster strikes. One of the very first stops along the road to housing recovery should be to check out the assistance that may be available through this government agency. This section of the guide provides basic information about FEMA assistance that may be available to you. Visit the FEMA website, www.fema.gov/sandy for additional information and helpful links to disaster recovery resources.

Recognizing that government alone cannot adequately respond to all of the challenges posed by a catastrophic event, FEMA employs a “Whole Community” approach to emergency management. Whole Community leverages other federal resources, state, local and tribal partners, as well as nonprofit and faith-based groups, to serve disaster survivors.

FEMA directly assists individuals and families who lived in a county designated by the President as a disaster area and whose property losses are not fully covered by insurance. This is not to say that FEMA will do nothing for you if you had insurance. Later on, we will discuss how FEMA may help you even if you had some insurance coverage. But disaster assistance is not meant to supplement insurance coverage. The program is intended to assist you in meeting post-disaster expenses that cannot be covered by any other means. The maximum award under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) is $31,900.

There are deadlines for registering with FEMA. Visit the website for registration deadline dates. If you have already registered with FEMA or applied for FEMA assistance and received funding, feel free to bypass this pit stop and take the fast lane to the next section “State Programs

What Does FEMA Offer?

Housing Needs Assistance

FEMA may provide you with one or more of the following forms of financial assistance for housing:

  • Temporary Housing: Financial Assistance is available to rent a different place to live, or to obtain a government-provided housing unit (such as a trailer).
  • Repair: Financial Assistance is available to homeowners to repair uninsured damages from the disaster to their primary residence. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional.
  • Replacement: Financial Assistance is available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the disaster. The goal is to help homeowners with the cost of replacing their destroyed homes.
Other Needs

In addition to the housing-related assistance, FEMA makes money available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes everything on the following list:

  • Disaster-related medical and dental costs
  • Disaster-related funeral and burial costs
  • Clothing; household items (room furnishings, appliances); tools required for your job (specialized or protective clothing and equipment); necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies)
  • Fuels for primary heat source (heating oil, gas)
  • Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier)
  • Assistance with transportation, disaster-damaged vehicles
  • Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (moving and storing property to avoid additional disaster damage while disaster-related repairs are being made to the home)
  • Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA
  • Other expenses that are authorized by law Permanent Housing Construction: Sometimes FEMA will fund construction of a new home. This type of help is available only in certain remote locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible. 

Am I Eligible for FEMA Assistance?

Before you apply for these FEMA programs, you should check to make sure that you meet the following requirements:

Eligibility for Housing Needs Assistance

The FEMA Housing Portal (http://asd.fema.gov/inter/hportal/home.htm) helps individuals and families who have been displaced by a disaster identify a place to live.

FEMA requires that you meet all of the following criteria in order to be eligible for Housing Needs Assistance:

  • You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.
  • You have filed for insurance benefits and the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance, or your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your losses.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • You have a valid Social Security number.
  • The home in the disaster area is where you usually live and where you were living at the time of the disaster.
  • You are not able to live in your home now; you cannot get to your home due to the disaster; or your home requires repairs because of damage from the disaster.
  • You may not be eligible for Housing Needs assistance if:
  • You have other rent-free housing that is adequate for your needs and that you can use (for example, rental property you own that is not occupied).
  • Your damaged home is your secondary or vacation residence.
  • Your expenses resulted only from leaving your home as a precaution, and you were able to return to your home immediately after the incident.
  • You have refused assistance from your insurance provider(s).
  • Your only losses are business related (including self-employment losses and farm business losses — other than the farmhouse) or items not covered by this program.
  • The damaged home where you live is located in a designated flood hazard area and your community is not participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. In this case, the flood damage to your home would not be covered. However, you may qualify for rental assistance for items not covered by flood insurance, such as water wells, septic systems, etc. (For more details, see www.fema.gov/do-I-qualify-assistance.)
Eligibility for Assistance with Other Needs

To receive money for other needs that are the result of a disaster — but are not related to housing — all the following must be true:
  • You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.
  • You filed for insurance benefits, but the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance or your insurance settlement is not adequate to cover your losses.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • You have necessary expenses or serious needs because of the disaster.

You have accepted assistance from all other sources for which you are eligible, such as insurance proceeds or Small Business Administration disaster loans.

Alert: Bypass to Insurance? -You may want to fast forward to the Insurance Section, which provides detailed information about how to file an insurance claim.

Alert: Have Insurance? Help from FEMA - If any of the scenarios above describe your particular situation, you can contact FEMA for additional help. You will have up to 12 months from the date you register with FEMA to submit your insurance information for review. Remember that any funds issued to you from FEMA that are eventually paid through your insurance company will have to be repaid to FEMA. According to federal law, FEMA cannot provide money to individuals or households for losses that are covered by insurance.

Disaster Assistance for Those with Insurance Coverage

There are some circumstances where you may be able to receive help from FEMA even if you do have insurance coverage. However, it is essential that you have already contacted your insurance agent and filed a claim. If you have not done this already, you will need to do it as soon as possible. Failing to file an insurance claim will make you unable to register for FEMA assistance.

Assuming that you have already filed a claim with your insurance company, let’s look at some of the situations where FEMA may still be able to provide you with assistance:

  • Your insurance settlement is delayed. In technical terms, “delayed” means a decision on your insurance settlement has taken longer than 30 days from the time you filed the claim. If this is what has happened to you, write a letter to FEMA at: Federal Emergency Management Agency, PO Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782; explaining the circumstances. In your letter, include documentation from the insurance company proving that you filed the claim. If you filed your claim over the telephone, you should include the claim number, the date when you applied, and the estimated length of time it will take for you to receive your settlement. Remember, though, that any help awarded to you by FEMA would be considered an advance — it must be repaid to FEMA once you receive your insurance settlement.
  • Your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your disaster-related needs. If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance and still have an unmet disaster-related need, write a letter to FEMA explaining that unmet disaster-related need. Include related paperwork from your insurance company for FEMA’s review.
  • You have exhausted the Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provided by your insurance company. If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) and still need help with your disaster-related temporary housing need, write a letter to FEMA explaining why you still need help. You will also need to provide documentation to prove you had and used ALE assistance from your insurance company, and include a plan for future permanent housing.
  • You are unable to locate rental resources in your area. The FEMA Helpline has a list of rental resources in the disaster area. If no resources are available in your county, the Helpline agent will try to provide you with resources in an adjacent county. Call the Helpline at (800) 621-FEMA (or 3362). For TTY service, call (800) 462-7585.

Applying for FEMA Assistance

The FEMA website (www.fema.gov/apply-assistance) has an easy, three-step approach for answering your questions about the application process:

1. Before You Apply

  • What is disaster assistance? What items are covered by disaster assistance?
  • What are my rights?
  • Do I qualify for assistance?
  • How can I locate a Disaster Recovery Center?
  • What information do I need to apply? (See below)

2.Ways to Apply

  • Apply by phone: .
  • Call 800-621-FEMA (3362). .
  • Call TTY 800-462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities.
  • Apply online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Apply by smartphone at m.fema.gov

3. After You Apply

  • Check the status of your application.
  • I’m registered with FEMA. What do I do next?
  • My address or phone number has changed. How do I alert FEMA?
  • I was denied assistance. Is there an appeal process?
  • How can FEMA help me manage my long term needs?
  • I received FEMA assistance. What do I need to know?
  • You can follow this process via the Web or by phone. On the Web, go to www.fema.gov/applyassistance. By phone, contact FEMA Disaster Assistance at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or for TTY services, 800-462-7585.
  • When you contact FEMA, you will need to have the following information:
  • Five digit Zip Code
  • Current contact telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Current mailing address and address of damaged property
  • Date the damage occurred
  • Directions to the property
  • Brief description of damaged property
  • Insurance information and policy number(s)
  • Gross family income
  • A bank routing number (So FEMA can deposit funds directly to your bank account).

Disaster Recovery Centers

FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are accessible facilities or mobile offices where applicants can go for information about FEMA or disaster assistance. Specific services may include:

  • Clarification of FEMA correspondence
  • Housing assistance and rental resource information
  • Status information on FEMA claims and applications
  • SBA program information
  • General guidance regarding disaster recovery in various states have numerous Disaster Recovery Centers located throughout the affected areas. Search for one near you at www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or by texting “DRC” and your zip code to 43362 or 4FEMA (standard rates apply).

The Insurance Industry: “Securing the Rebuild”

By now you should be well on your way down the road to housing recovery. You’ve picked up your map and started the process of identifying your Roadside Assistance Crew. You’ve made a pit stop at the FEMA section and you’ve now arrived at the Insurance Industry Pit Stop. We’ll reduce the speed here and focus on all the details since insurance is at the top of the list for ensuring a successful journey.

Insurance is the purchase of protection in case of loss — some might say it is the purchase of “peace of mind.” But, however you express the need for it, insurance is a necessity. It provides you with financial protection for your health, home, and automobile, among other things. Having the correct type and amount of insurance can help you replace lost possessions when you experience events like theft, fire, storms or other natural disasters. Unfortunately, if you’re like many of us, you may not find out how your insurance policies work until you have to file a claim. By then it can be too late, especially if the coverage isn’t what you expected.

At this stop on the Road to Housing Recovery we’ll explore the in’s and out’s of insurance and the types of protection available.

Confused by the Fine Print? The Nuts & Bolts of Insurance

In this section, you’ll gain a basic understanding of what the typical policy covers. We will help you understand the features of various types of homeowner and flood insurance programs. We’ll also point out the options you may have for additional protection.

Need Help Now? Navigating the Claims Process

We’ll walk you through the claims process. We’ll also discuss the various types of covered damages and give you tips on how to make filing and settling claims faster and easier.

When Things Go Right: Settling Damage Claims and Moving Ahead with Repairs

Your insurance company has offered a settlement. How can you negotiate if you don’t think the settlement is enough? How do you move ahead with repairs to your home? We address these and more issues here.

When Things Go Wrong: What to do When You Have a Complaint or Can’t Get an Answer?

Even if you’ve carefully prepared and submitted your claim, many things can still go wrong during the claims process. We’ll outline the typical obstacles you might confront along the way and offer some resolutions to common problems. When all else fails, we’ll point you to local authorities who can help you resolve a conflict with insurance providers.

Just Beginning Your Search?Acquiring Insurance
You may not know what to look for and whom to turn to for advice. In this section we’ll offer tips on finding the right coverage so you’re not wasting time. We’ll also let you know how you can save money while you shop and compare. Understanding Types of Insurance It’s important that you understand the purpose of each of these types of insurance products — and the events that are covered or excluded with each.

Confused by the Fine Print? The Nuts & Bolts of Insurance

In this section, you’ll gain a basic understanding of what the typical policy covers. We will help you understand the features of various types of homeowner and flood insurance programs. We’ll also point out the options you may have for additional protection.

Need Help Now?Navigating the Claims Process

We’ll walk you through the claims process. We’ll also discuss the various types of covered damages and give you tips on how to make filing and settling claims faster and easier.

When Things Go Right: Settling Damage Claims and Moving Ahead with Repairs

Your insurance company has offered a settlement. How can you negotiate if you don’t think the settlement is enough? How do you move ahead with repairs to your home? We address these and more issues here.

When Things Go Wrong: What to do When You Have a Complaint or Can’t Get an Answer?

Even if you’ve carefully prepared and submitted your claim, many things can still go wrong during the claims process. We’ll outline the typical obstacles you might confront along the way and offer some resolutions to common problems. When all else fails, we’ll point you to local authorities who can help you resolve a conflict with insurance providers.

Just Beginning Your Search? Acquiring Insurance

You may not know what to look for and whom to turn to for advice. In this section we’ll offer tips on finding the right coverage so you’re not wasting time. We’ll also let you know how you can save money while you shop and compare. Understanding Types of Insurance It’s important that you understand the purpose of each of these types of insurance products — and the events that are covered or excluded with each. Confused by the Fine Print? The Nuts & Bolts of Insurance Let’s begin with some basic information about how insurance policies work. Then you will have a better idea of what to look for when you review your current policy or begin to shop for new insurance. (Insurance has a language all its own; you may find it helpful to see the “Definitions of Insurance Terms”.

Types of Insurance

Although there are many types of insurance available, our main focus in this section is on homeowner, renter, and flood insurance programs, including coverage for owners of condominiums and manufactured housing. We’ll also touch briefly on related policies such as automobile, boat and watercraft coverage, home rental and dwelling insurance, law and ordinance coverage, and supplemental insurance you might want to consider.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance protects your home and its contents from accidents and disasters. It is known as a “package policy” because it usually provides two or more types of protection. For instance, it covers physical damage to your home and also protects you from liability or legal responsibility for damage or injuries that you or your family members and pets may cause to others.

Most homeowners policies also cover some living expenses you would incur if you are unable to occupy the property for a period of time. Your policy probably also includes some limited medical-payments coverage.

Let’s examine the most common types of coverage that are included in your policy:

  • Home and Property Damage
  • Personal Liability
  • Additional Living Expenses
  • Medical Payments

Home and Property Damage

This portion of your insurance pays to replace or rebuild your home and any other structures on your property — such as a detached garage. It also provides the funds to replace your personal property — such as furniture and clothing.

The amount of insurance you carry on your home and personal property should be based on a sound assessment of your needs in the event of a loss. You should have enough coverage to rebuild your home and replace all of your possessions at today’s costs.

In some cases your lender or condo association may require a minimum amount of coverage tied to mortgage amounts or other guidelines. Remember that standard personal property payout benefits may also be limited to between 50% and 70% of the dwelling coverage amounts.

Make a commitment to review the value of your home and possessions on an annual basis and make any necessary adjustments to benefit limits. You can also purchase additional types of coverage that pick up where standard policies end.

Personal Liability

Liability coverage protects you against lawsuits for damages caused by you, your family members, and/or your pets. It pays for the cost of defending you in court as well as the cost of any settlement action or finding of liability.

Most standard policies include coverage of approximately $100,000 for personal liability. Higher amounts are available, and today most experts recommend coverage amounts of between $300,000 and $500,000.

Additional Living Expenses (ALE)

If you cannot occupy your home after a disaster, you will want to make sure your policy includes benefits that provide payments for additional living expenses.

These include hotel rooms, meals and related living expenses while your home is being rebuilt or repaired and can’t be occupied. The standard homeowner policy sets limits at about 20% of the maximum coverage.

Medical Payments

This coverage pays for the medical expenses of persons accidentally injured at your home, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. Benefits are capped at the medical payment limits in the policy and do not apply to your injuries or those of anyone living with you or to activities involving a home-based business.

Condominium Insurance

Your homeowners insurance policy covers your condominium much like it does for a single-family homeowner. The condominium association should have what’s known as a “master policy” on the condominium project, which typically covers the structure. The master policy protects the commonly owned elements of the building, such as the roof and outer walls. You probably pay for a portion of the master policy in your monthly homeowners association dues.

Caution: Don’t Get Forced Off the Road with a “Force-Placed” Policy

Though homeowners insurance covers many types of perils, it does not cover flood damage or damage due to poor maintenance or deliberate destructive acts. In fact, if you let your homeowners insurance policy expire while your home is financed, your lender will likely put what’s known as a “forceplaced” policy on the property. Force-placed insurance is often more than twice the cost of traditional policies and provides little benefit to you as the property owner.

Caution: Avoid Being “Boxed In” Don’t wait until the last minute to buy your policy, especially during hurricane season (June 1 through November 30). Insurance companies do not accept new applications, or requests to increase coverage, once a tropical storm or hurricane reaches a certain distance from landfall. Insurance companies generally refer to this situation as the storm being “in the box.”

As a condo owner, the homeowners policy you purchase typically only covers the contents of the unit and the portions of the building that belong to you as an individual condo association member.

Condo associations can also require unit owners to insure items such as front doors and screened porches. In addition, unit owners should continue to insure interior additions or upgrades which are not the same kind or quality as the original building items.

Your condo association may still choose to cover some items, so make sure you are thoroughly familiar with its by laws and insurance policy and know what the association is responsible for covering.

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance protects your possessions when you rent a house or apartment. Your landlord’s insurance policy usually won’t cover your possessions. For example, if your rented home is destroyed by a fire, your landlord will be covered for the structural damage. But if you don’t have renters insurance, you will not receive any money for your lost possessions. Renters policies can be a relatively inexpensive way to help cover the loss of your personal belongings.

Renters insurance typically covers the same “perils” as homeowners insurance policies fire, theft, etc.) and also limits your personal liability for injuries to others. In some cases, renter policies also cover additional living expenses if you cannot live in the property temporarily, although this benefit usually has a set maximum amount.

There are two standard renters insurance policies: The Broad Form is the most common and covers personal belongings from damage due to:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Explosion
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Theft Water-related damage from property utilities

The Comprehensive Form provides coverage for all of these events plus additional selected options such as windstorm damage. Since Comprehensive covers more perils, it usually is more expensive than the Broad Form.

Homeowners Insurance for Mobile and Manufactured Homes

If you own a mobile or manufactured home, the steps for getting insurance are pretty much the same as for owners of other types of homes. Usually you get a standard homeowners insurance policy, though some companies may offer a special manufactured or mobile home policy. You can still qualify for mobile home insurance even if you don’t live in the mobile home all year round. If you’re renting a mobile home, you can purchase renters insurance to cover personal belongings just like any other renter.

Am I covered if I move my home?

The main difference between your mobile or manufactured home and other homes is the fact that yours is built to be moved. Your regular homeowner’s policy will not cover the move from one site to another, and in fact the policy will probably tell you that you have to call your insurance agent if you plan to relocate your home. The company will sell you a different policy for about a month’s time, which covers any damage due to the move, the property being stranded, and so on. You may find that you get charged a higher deductible during the move, so be sure to read the policy carefully before trying to make a claim.

Are there any other differences?

Companies that insure mobile homes are most concerned about wind and storm damage. This is because mobile homes tend to be lighter and easier for the wind to push around. In order to get insurance you may have to use industry-approved “tie downs” that anchor your unit to the ground.

Another difference is that the company may offer little or limited coverage for outbuildings, like sheds. For example, they might limit coverage of all outbuildings to $2,000.

Flood Insurance

You may be required to carry flood insurance on your home if it is in a federally designated Flood Zone. These zones are mainly located in coastal areas that are prone to flooding from oceans, lakes and/or rivers.

Even if your home is not in a Flood Zone, if you think flooding is possible you may be able to voluntarily purchase flood coverage. All standard homeowners and renters policies exclude coverage from floods. Basic coverage is only available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The National Flood Insurance Program is managed by FEMA, though the insurance policies are sold by approved insurance companies.

You can only purchase flood insurance if your community participates in FEMA’s NFIT. For a complete state-by-state list of communities that are participating, check out the links at FEMA’s website, www.floodsmart.gov.

If flood insurance is available in your community, it can be purchased through your local insurance company along with your homeowners or renters policy as long as it offers the NFIP coverage.

Caution: Mobile Home Insurance vs. Special Vehicle Insurance Mobile home insurance is not the same as motor home, recreational vehicle (RV), or travel trailer insurance.

Caution: You should be aware that there are NFIP limits on coverage. Standard dwelling coverage is limited to a maximum of $250,000 for homes and $500,000 for businesses. Annual premiums can vary from $350 to $2,100, depending on the amount of coverage you need and the Flood Zone your home is in.

Alert: The amount of money that flood insurance pays out for personal property is based on actual cash value rather than full replacement costs. This can severely impact you if you must replace everything.

Automobile Insurance

Automobile insurance is required by law in all states. Each state sets the minimum types and amounts of coverage that you must have. Mandatory policies usually include:

  • Personal Injury Protection — Covers auto accident related injuries for you and your family members or others riding in the car. Some policies will also insure your child if he or she suffers an injury while riding a school bus under this type of coverage.
  • Property Damage Liability — Covers certain damage that you or anyone covered cause to another person’s property with an automobile whether moving or parked. It only covers damage for which you or anyone insured under your policy is legally liable.
  • Bodily Injury Liability — This coverage pays for death or serious and permanent injury to others when you are legally liable for an accident involving your automobile or while driving someone else’s car (in some cases). Your insurance company will pay for injuries up to the limits of your policy and provide legal representation if you get sued.
  • Collision — This coverage pays, regardless of who causes the accident, for repair or replacement of your vehicle if it collides with another vehicle, flips over, or crashes into an object. It does not cover injuries to people or damage to property other than your covered automobile.
  • Comprehensive — This coverage pays for losses from incidents other than a collision, such as fire, theft, windstorm, vandalism, or flood. It also covers damages caused by falling objects or from hitting an animal.
  • Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorist —This coverage pays for bodily injuries to you, your family members, and any other person occupying your covered automobile, should they be caused by the negligence of an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Boat and Watercraft Insurance

Small boats, including canoes and small sail and power boats (under 25 horsepower), are most likely covered under your homeowners or renters policy. Basic coverage is usually limited to the lesser of $1,000 or 10 percent of the home’s property value.

Maximum limits include the boat, motor, and trailer combined. Liability coverage is typically not included, but it can be included in your homeowners policy. Check with your insurance agent to find out what coverage is in place or available for your boat.

Larger or faster boats and personal watercraft (wave runners and jet skis) need a separate boat insurance policy. Premiums are based on several factors, including the type of craft, size and cost to replace. Boat insurance policies also provide expanded liability protection.

They cover:

  • Damage to the hull, machinery, and certain equipment
  • Bodily injuries caused to others
  • Property liability
  • Medical payments for the owner and passengers
  • Theft

Liability policies are available for $15,000 to $300,000 in coverage. Deductibles generally range from $250 to $1,000. Policies also can include towing coverage, insurance for the boat trailer and any special equipment that may be on board, such as fishing gear.

Home Rental or Dwelling Insurance If you rent your home to others, insurance companies offer landlord coverage to suit your situation. You usually need a commercial dwelling policy to cover a home you do not live in. If you rent a room or a portion of your home, ask your agent what coverage you may need.

Ordinance or Law Coverage

It’s possible that a local building code or law passed after you purchased your insurance policy could increase the cost of repairing or replacing your home if it’s damaged. The insurance company will not pay that extra amount, unless you add ordinance or law coverage to your policy. Your agent must offer you ordinance or law coverage. If you do not wish to buy this coverage, you must sign a form stating that you reject it. Some companies automatically include this coverage.

Supplemental Insurance

Review the following wise tips to consumers on supplemental types of insurance coverage:

Inflation Guard — Inflation or room additions can increase the replacement cost of your home and its contents, while the actual cash value of your home may decrease over time. An inflation guard endorsement gradually increases your coverage limit annually to keep your insurance coverage up-to-date with current prices and inflation.

Windstorm Coverage — Most homeowner policies do cover damage caused by windstorms, hurricanes and hail, but insurance companies may exclude this coverage in some high-risk areas — such as homes on or near the beach.

Hurricane Deductibles — Most coastal insurance policies include special hurricane deductibles that take effect when the National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning. These deductibles depend on the value of the insured property and apply only to hurricane claims. You may owe extra out-of-pocket costs for damage that occurs: any time a hurricane watch or warning is issued, up to 72 hours after such a watch or warning ends, and any time when hurricane conditions exist throughout the state.

Even though you may face damage from more than one storm during a season, you typically only have to make one deductible payment per year.

Sources of Insurance

You have at least three sources of insurance products if you’re a resident of a coastal or flood-prone area.

Private-Sector Firms

These include the familiar, name-brand insurance companies and mutual associations that are found across the country. Many offer both homeowners and automobile coverage. You’ll want to read the fine print and discuss your options with an insurance company representative to make sure your needs are met.

You also want to be sure that your insurance company is dependable and law-abiding. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) monitors insurance companies by tracking a wide variety of information in its “Consumer Information Source.” Information the NAIC tracks include key annual statements, a financial profile, basic data about where policies are written, as well as assets and liabilities. The financial strength of your carrier is very important. This is especially true if the company has many commitments that could force it to make large payouts. The NAIC also tracks complaints through its Closed Consumer Complaint data for each company that provides reports to NAIC.

You can check out potential companies and gather additional helpful information at NAIC’s website, www.naic.org.