The Right Documentation Can Help Prevent The Deobligation Of Fema Funds

The key to loss recovery funding is Documentation, Documentation, Documentation!  Think about it as building a case for your loss. In order to prove your case, you’ll need evidence (both pre- and post-loss). Below are five types of documentation we suggest your organization maintain to help ensure that funding obligated through an insurance or FEMA claim is maximized.


#1 – Establish Clear Condition Assessments of Your Property
Condition can be a major determining factor after a loss. It is the obligated party’s responsibility to make sure they are mitigating risk and maintaining property up to its use and reasonable condition. Documentation at this level should include:
– Annual assessments documented with images and occupancy records.
– Property improvement logs documented with construction/improvement contracts.
– Accurate records of occupancy updated to show property that is vacant or in transition of occupancy.

#2 – Maintain Proper Insurance Coverage Documentation
A clear understanding of up-to-date policy information is critical to determine who is obligated to fund the loss.
– Record and store all property insurance policies. Include effective dates and limits.
– Understand what is covered. For example: debris removal (at what level)? damages to structures? contents? by flood, seismic activity, or acts of terrorism? etc.
– Record deductibles on all categories of policy inclusions.


#3 – Document the Loss Event and All Related Activities
Have a clear loss documentation process that includes loss inspections and additional loss mitigation.
– Inspect all property affected by the event. This may include engineering inspections as well as condition assessments.
– Document the loss with images and documentation. Make sure all documents include timestamps.
– Secure property and mitigate the potential for additional damage. Document with images, timestamps and third party contracts.
– Follow all existing procurement processes when contracting outside work.

#4 – Debris Removal
Documenting and maintaining accurate logs of debris removal is a tedious task. It can also be expensive. Make sure that you have reviewed your insurance policy to see if it covers the removal of debris after a loss. Any cost beyond your coverage may be recovered through the FEMA public assistance program.
– Check insurance policies for coverage. Make sure to note distances from property that may not be covered.
– Discuss the distance quotient with your debris removal service.
– Document the amount of debris removed under insurance policy and any debris removal beyond the coverage.
– Record and document tonnage and apply to either an insurance claim or FEMA public assistance.
– Funding for removing debris, covered under your insurance policy, can be de-obligated in the FEMA public assistance process.

#5 – Rebuilding
This phase of loss recovery may be the most time consuming and complex. Many groups within an organization participate in this phase.
– Record all administrative time and expenses that are associated with this process, they are covered by the FEMA public assistance grant program.
– Record all project contracts and costs for each property effected.
– Link all actual costs of these projects to the original estimated costs you had.
– Detailed scope of work documents need to be maintained, updated and communicated throughout the process. Changes in scope are not covered by FEMA, unless they have been documented and approved.
– To finalize the project, you must have a release of occupancy from the contractor.

What you don’t know about loss recovery funding pre-loss and post-loss can affect your bottom line. These tips can help your organization recover from a loss and help ensure the maximum funding for all loss activities.

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