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Tuesday, 19 September 2017 18:51

FEMA Fact Sheet: Critical Needs Assistance

FEMA has authorized Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) for all designated counties in Texas for households with immediate or serious needs due to being displaced from their primary dwelling.

Critical needs are life-saving and life-sustaining items including, but not limited to: water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items and fuel for transportation.

To be eligible for CNA a survivor must:

  • Complete a registration with FEMA;
  • Verify identity;
  • Assert at the time of registration that they have critical needs and request financial assistance for those needs and expenses;
  • Have a pre-disaster primary residence located in a county designated for CNA; and
  • Be displaced from their pre-disaster primary residence as a result of the disaster.

CNA is currently available in the following counties: Austin, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, and Wharton.

Funds are delivered via direct deposit or paper check payable to the eligible applicant. Critical needs funding may take longer than usual due to the magnitude of this disaster. Once made, an eligibility determination is final.

WASHINGTON—To support the ongoing disaster recovery, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is enhancing the flood insurance claims process, and extending the grace period for paying policy renewal premiums for insured survivors affected by Hurricane Irma.

Due to the wide-spread catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Irma, FEMA implemented temporary changes to rush recovery money into the hands of NFIP policyholders, for repair and replacement of flood-damaged properties. FEMA also wants to ensure continuous flood insurance coverage for current NFIP policyholders affected by this storm, even if the renewed policy premium cannot be paid at this time. FEMA is directing all NFIP private insurance partners to:

  • Provide advance payments on flood claims, even before visits by an adjuster;
  • Increase the advance payment allowable for policyholders who provide photographs or video depicting flood  damage and expenses, or a contractor’s itemized estimate;
  • Waive use of the initial Proof of Loss (POL) form; and
  • Extend the grace period for payment of NFIP flood insurance policy renewal premiums to 120 days. This waiver applies to all NFIP policies, whether issued by the NFIP Servicing Agent or a Write Your Own Company, written for properties in areas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and counties in Florida that have received a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance (IA) under the Stafford Act.

Advance Payments 

The NFIP is making it easier for policyholders to receive an advance payment for their flood claim to help them begin the process of recovery as quickly as possible. After filing a flood insurance claim, the policyholder can discuss advance payment with the insurer:

  • When a policyholder contacts his/her insurer and verifies his/her identity, he/she can receive an advance payment for up to $5,000 on a flood claim without an adjuster visit or additional documentation.  When the advance payment is issued, a letter is sent to the policyholder which explains that by accepting this payment the policyholder is certifying the damage.
  • Up to $20,000 may be advanced to a policyholder who provides photos and/or videos depicting damage, and receipts validating out-of-pocket expenses related to flood loss or a contractor’s itemized estimate. Policyholders with significant damage who have a contractor’s itemized estimate may be eligible for a larger advance payment and should discuss this with the adjuster.

Advance payments are deducted from a policyholder’s final claim settlement amount. Advance payments may only be used according to the terms of the policy. For example, if a policyholder has a building/structure flood insurance policy, the advance payment must be used to repair or rebuild the structure. Or if a policyholder has contents coverage, the advance payment must be used to repair or replace contents that were within the structure. Advance payments may not be used for temporary housing and living expenses.

If a policyholder’s property is mortgaged, the lender will also be named on the advance payment issued for a building/structure flood insurance policy. In this case, the policyholder and lender will both be required to sign the advance payment check. 

Proof of Loss Waiver

To expedite processing of NFIP claims for Hurricane Irma, the NFIP is waiving the requirement for a policyholder to submit an initial Proof of Loss (POL) document. Here’s how the expedited process will work:

  • After a policyholder files a claim, a time is set up for the adjuster to inspect the flood damaged property. The adjuster will document the damage and submit a report to the policyholder’s insurance company.
  • If additional damage is discovered or a policyholder does not agree with the payment amount, a policyholder can seek additional payment if the policy’s coverage limits have not been met. A POL will be required to seek a supplemental payment on the claim. If payment is issued based upon the adjuster’s initial report and an additional proof of loss is not submitted by the policyholder, the insurer will close the file.

If a policyholder decides to request an additional payment, which must be done by completing a POL, the policyholder will have one year from the date of filing the initial claim to submit the request to the insurance company. FEMA has informed all of its NFIP insurance partners about this process and how it will work.  NFIP policyholders are encouraged to work closely with an adjuster on this expedited process.

Grace Period Extension for Policy Renewals

To ensure that policyholders affected by Hurricane Irma can focus on recovery and continue to have flood insurance coverage, FEMA is extending the current 30-day grace period of continual flood insurance coverage to 120 days, for policies in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, that were set for renewal during the immediate response to Hurricane Irma.

Policies with an expiration date of August 7, 2017, through October 6, 2017, are eligible for the grace period extension.  Payment for those policies must be received within 120 days of the policy expiration.

The NFIP cannot pay a claim for a flood loss that occurs after a policy expiration date unless the policyholder’s insurance company receives the payment in full for renewal on or before the last day of the grace period. 

The grace period extension applies to NFIP policies covering properties in Puerto RicoU.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida counties designated under the Presidential Disaster Declaration. NFIP policyholders are encouraged to contact their insurance company and report a flood claim as soon as possible.  For any policy with a renewal date on or after October 7, 2017, the normal 30-day grace period will apply.

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FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blogwww.twitter.com/femawww.twitter.com/femaspoxwww.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

MIDLAND, Mich. — Michigan homeowners, landlords and business owners are reminded to check with local government building officials regarding permits before repairing or rebuilding a structure damaged by June storms and flooding.

Many building owners have already received disaster assistance grants, settled their insurance claims, or are preparing to dip into their savings to repair or rebuild their homes. Before beginning any work, state law requires you check with local officials to make sure that you have the proper permits. Repairs or rebuilding should not begin until issuance of appropriate permits.

Local governments keep track of construction activity in their areas. City inspectors make sure that the buildings being repaired or constructed meet the minimum requirements of the state building code, thereby providing safe buildings in their community.

Community building officials require you to meet current building code standards. If a home or business is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area - the 100 year flood plain - there are local ordinances that will affect how dwellings are repaired, renovated, or reconstructed. A community must enforce these regulations so that federally-backed flood insurance and most forms of disaster assistance continue to be available to local residents and property owners.

Upon final inspection of the completed project, a Certificate of Occupancy is issued to the project’s owner. At this point the building or structure is available to be used or occupied by the public.  Be sure to keep receipts for materials used or contracted work.

Once the job is complete, the insurance company will inspect the property to verify work that was done. Permits that were issued will prove the work was done by an accredited contractor.

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FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

English: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4326

Spanish: https://www.fema.gov/es/disaster/4326

https://twitter.com/femaregion5

All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

Thursday, 21 September 2017 18:45

DISASTER RELIEF: PREPARING FOR FRAUDSTERS

While natural disasters have the unique ability to unify people, it is important to stay cognizant of scams and fraud that follow.

PropertyCasualty360 addressed potential scams in this article, noting that hurricane relief fraudsters are some of the first to appear after a storm. One way to avoid scams is to donate strictly to well-known reputable organizations such as the Red Cross or Direct Relief.  The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation has a Hurricane Harvey disaster relief fund as well.

Affected homeowners should be wary of who they let into their home for repairs. Regulators in Florida are warning consumers not to sign Assignment of Benefits (AOB) forms to get repair work started.

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=5442

Sunday, 17 September 2017 18:44

The top 5 leading causes of data loss

It’s easy to assume that data loss will never happen to your business. 

You’re not on the Fortune 500, so who’d want your data? And you’re not in the path of major natural disasters, so what’s the big deal? 

As far as you’re concerned, nothing is getting between you and your data — because why would it? 

Unfortunately, though, hackers and Mother Nature aren’t the only threats to your data. In fact, those are — by far — the least of your worries, and here are just a few of the reasons why.

 ...

https://continuitycenters.com/top-5-leading-causes-data-loss/

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 18:43

CONCURRENT CAUSATION AND HURRICANE IRMA CLAIMS

The issue of causation, especially when there may be multiple causes of loss, can be a tricky one for both insureds and insurers. It comes down to what caused the loss – and in what order.

Take the example of a major catastrophe, like a hurricane, where there may be property claims arising from both wind and water. Determining the cause of loss is key to determining whether there is coverage under the terms of an insurance policy because there are two policies in play, one for wind damage and one for flood damage.

Some jurisdictions subscribe to the “efficient proximate cause doctrine” while others subscribe to the “concurrent causation doctrine”.

What’s that?

...

http://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/?p=5438

Sunday, 17 September 2017 18:41

Proving IT Disaster Recovery to Constituents

Given modern technology demands, any form of downtime now presents problems for ongoing revenue generation. This places additional pressure on business leaders and IT departments in proving their IT disaster recovery (DR) plan’s effectiveness. In many industries, sensitive information has become increasingly regulated due to the importance in maintaining constant availability. For this reason, securing proper documentation to verify recoverability a priority.

Trouble is, not every DR solution is equal. In some scenarios, IT teams and third-party providers will take shortcuts in IT resiliency, which does nothing to truly protect technology operations. For this reason, Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) has emerged as a viable option for reliable business continuity.

...

https://www.bluelock.com/blog/proving-disaster-recovery-constituents/

As a business continuity manager, you are likely to be involved in getting your colleagues to take business continuity seriously and ensure that their own departments will continue to function even in adverse conditions.

Those names in a list might make a group of people to work with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean collaboration is part of the package.

If collaboration is missing, then so the “act of working together to produce or create something” will be missing too.

Which could all too easily mean one department “ticking the box” for business continuity for itself, yet neglecting to plan to give vital support to others.

...

http://www.opscentre.com/3-ways-build-collaboration-business-continuity-management/

Monday, 18 September 2017 18:38

Factors That Define Different Cloud Providers

You may have noticed that it isn’t 2009 anymore, and the factors that define different cloud providers are more difficult to spot than they used to be.

All offer basic computing, networking and storage options.

They all also have derivative services like load balancers, databases, and queuing that allow them to sell more computing, networking and storage at a premium – and common application components you no longer have to manage.

All even have next-wave functionality built around IoT, voice-to-text (and back), AI and serverless computing.

With all that common core technology, how do you differentiate among them?

...

http://mspmentor.net/cloud-services/factors-define-different-cloud-providers

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is raising awareness that Hurricane Irma disaster survivors, and their friends and family, should be alert for false rumors, scams, identity theft, and fraud. Although many Americans are working hard to help their neighbors now, during chaotic times, some will always try to take advantage of the most vulnerable.

To dispel some of the false rumors circulating on the internet and social media, FEMA has a dedicated website to address some of the most common themes. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Visit FEMA's Hurricane Rumor Control page to get the most accurate information from trusted sources.

Here are a few guidelines to protect yourself, or someone you care about, from disaster fraud:

Hurricane survivors are also encouraged to notify local authorities to cases of lawlessness or violence, especially in hurricane shelters. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. For other cases:

  • In Florida, report suspicious/criminal activity to 1-855-352-7233.
  • In Puerto Rico, report suspicious/criminal activity to the Puerto Rico Police by calling 787-343-2020, or by calling your local FBI office at 787-754-6000.
  • In the U.S. Virgin Islands, report suspicious/criminal activity to:
    • St. Thomas - 519-631-1224
    • St. John - 340-693-8880
    • St. Croix - 340-778-4950

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FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blogwww.twitter.com/femawww.twitter.com/femaspoxwww.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.