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Below are important action steps that lead to financial recovery after a flood.
Conserve the resources you currently have:
- Notify your employer of the disaster’s impact on you. Determine if you have
personal leave time available to you. Tell the employer how to contact you.
- If your employer notifies you that your place of employment was destroyed or
damaged and there is no work, contact your state’s unemployment insurance
office to ask about unemployment benefits eligibility. In Minnesota contact the
local Workforce Center.
- Contact your local Social Security Office if you were injured and cannot work.
You may be eligible for disability insurance.
- Contact the agency responsible for any financial benefits you are receiving at
home and give them a new mailing address if necessary.
- If you cannot stay in your home, save money by cancelling any utilities and or
services that are not needed (gas, electricity, telephone, cable TV, newspaper,
home delivered softener salt, etc.).
- Arrange for mail delivery at a different location if you cannot stay in your home.
Notify creditors as soon as possible about a change in address. Explain the disaster’s
impact on your financial situation and arrange payment plans before you get
an overdue notice.
- Track all financial communications on paper or electronically throughout the recovery
process. There will be a lot of discussions and decisions made during this time;
documenting everything will help you keep it all straight. Make note of the date, the
full name of the person you spoke with, contact information (phone number, email,
address, etc.), what you reported or information garnered and next steps.
Assess and report your damage:
- Contact your flood, home owners, and/or renters insurance,
even if you have doubts that it will be covered. Tell them how
to best contact you for claims service. Ask if insurance coverage
pays for living expenses if you cannot stay in your home.
If insurance policy was lost—request a copy. DO NOT sign
forms from insurance companies indicating a final interaction,
full payment, or complete settlement as other disaster-related
damages may surface weeks and months later.
- Notify your mortgage company of the disaster and the extent
of damage to property. Tell them how to contact you.
- For insurance and tax claims, take pictures or videotape everything when you are
allowed to return to your residence. Document losses, writing down ALL damaged
items, not just the “ big” items. If possible include brand, model numbers
and other property descriptors that substantiate the loss. Include age, estimated
value, and degree of damage. In addition, start tracking any expenses related to
the damage (including time taken off for work, etc.)
- Contact your auto insurance with vehicle damage. Indicate where a claims adjuster
can find the vehicle and your contact information. Ask if insurance covers
a car rental.
- Secure papers needed at this stage: mortgage/ deed, copy of a mortgage payment,
list of prescriptions, bank account numbers, credit cards and phone numbers,
driver’s license, and social security card. See the Floods and Rain website for
Manage your finances and decision-making:
- Check with the city/county/township to determine when
disaster informational meetings will be held. It is very
important to attend! This is where you will find out
about things that will affect your recovery and your
finances like donations, supplies, volunteers available,
etc. People who do not attend these meetings often miss
out on both monetary gifts and important information
that will affect their recovery.
- Your finances will continue to change throughout the
recovery period. Assess your pre-disaster financial situation
including income, expenses, and debt. Map disaster expenses and changes to
monthly income. Make proactive adjustments as needed.
- Prioritize bills if needed: mortgage/rent, food, transportation, and health may
need to take priority. If mortgage payments are missed you may be in jeopardy of
losing your home. Keep up with payments including negotiating a payment plan
with creditors to avoid a late payment situation.
- Protect yourself against contractors that may take advantage of people. Get
more than one bid from contractors. Check with the Better Business Bureau for
any complaints against the contractor. Check with the MN Dept. of Commerce
(800-657-3978) to determine if the contractor is licensed and bonded. Request a
performance bond in the total amount of the construction project, to protect you
if the contractor does not complete the work to your home. Request a payment
bond from the sub-contractor. This protects you from liens being assessed on
your property by subcontractors if the contractor does not pay them. Request a
signed lien waiver from the contractor in exchange for final payment.
- You may want to seek help from a trained financial educator, financial counselor,
or certified public accountant to help you determine viable financial options.
Some agencies provide this assistance for free.
Full PDF Version (344 K PDF)
See the related program: Extreme Weather Flood & Water.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact your University of Minnesota Extension office or the Extension Store at (800) 876-8636.