By Jonathan Kaupanger
If you have a home loan through the VA and your home is in an area affected by Hurricane Harvey, the VA is encouraging you to take the following steps to ensure you get the assistance you need.
First, you should apply for disaster relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling (800) 621-3362. You must register with FEMA before their deadline expires in order to receive the maximum assistance. Additional support, such as low-interest loans, cash grants, and housing assistance could be available for you. Check FEMA’s website for more specific information.
Next, you should contact your mortgage company. You are responsible for playing your monthly payments – even if your home isn’t habitable. Contact your lender as soon as possible! You can discuss forbearance or a loan modification. Also, ask your lender to explain the procedures for insurance loss checks, information on repairs to your property and payments to contractors.
You should file an insurance claim as soon as you can, so contacting your insurance company should be your next step. However, DO NOT MAKE A RUSHED SETTLEMENT WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!
If your property is damaged, but repairable, you should try to get a home inspection for structural damage before you settle with your insurance. Try to get at least two estimates for repairs or rebuilding. Once you do settle, there are two types of insurance checks that you might receive. If you get a check for damage to your home, then that can be made out to either you or your mortgage company. But, checks for personal property and living expenses should be payable only to you.
Now, how will you receive that check? If you are receiving a monthly benefit check from the VA, but you can’t receive mail at your regular address, you should notify both your local post office and your VA regional office, too.
If your home was adapted through VA’s Specially Adapted Housing program, call (877) 827-3702. There are supplemental grant funds available that can help with needed repairs. You can also talk to a VA Loan Specialist about all of your options at that same number.
Finally, VA suggests you contact other sources for assistance as well.
Try the local offices of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans or any other veterans’ organizations to see if they have any special assistance to offer.