Where Do I Turn After a Natural Disaster?

Injuries and property damage resulting from a natural disaster can be compensated or remedied in a variety of ways, from insurance claims, legal tactics and relief agencies.

Natural events such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes cannot always be predicted and families might be at risk. Personal injuries and unexpected events such as house fires or car accidents can happen any day. Being prepared for an emergency is the first step and one you may have heard a lot about. Multiple agencies provide resources regarding preparing your family for a disaster like one of these, but all too often the question is: "What do I do after disaster strikes?"

Insurance Protections

The specifics of insurance can be complex and may require a little research when you purchase a policy. Make sure you know the particulars of your insurance policy, including the various ways that insurance can protect you. Try to establish a relationship with a specific insurance representative or agent with whom you can have consistent contact every time you need to discuss your insurance coverage. If you need additional legal information regarding the coverage of your insurance policy, it may be helpful to contact an insurance attorney and maintain a relationship with them as well. After a disaster that affects your personal health, home, vehicle, business, or other asset with insurance coverage, these calls can and should be the first ones you make.

Legal Protections

If you do not contact an insurance attorney during the course of purchasing and maintaining your insurance policies, you may find that establishing a relationship with an attorney after a disastrous event is another option. For example, if your home is damaged by a natural disaster you may find that contacting a real estate attorney will benefit you during the insurance reimbursement process to assist in repairing your home or in the purchase of a new one. An attorney can help you understand your rights and the specifics of the recovery process from many disasters including:

  • Car Accidents. An attorney can assist you with processing insurance claims, recovering costs for medical expenses, and in the event that a lawsuit ensues from the at-fault driver
  • Property Damage. An attorney can assist with the insurance claims process and make sure that your rights are best represented in the event that you are a victim of crime or a natural disaster which affects any sort of real or personal property (such as a house, car, boat, undeveloped land, recreational vehicles, etc)
  • Business Disaster. An attorney can assist with insurance claims and processing of business license necessities and other legalities in the event that your business falls victim to fire, vandalism, burglary, or a natural disaster
  • Personal Injury. An attorney can represent your best interests in the event that you or another family member are injured as the result of someone else's negligence. An injury caused by a slip and fall, an animal attack, the malfunction of a ride at a theme park or other recreational location, or an improperly maintained facility can be disastrous to your family both financially and psychologically.

Assistance Agencies

  • Many state and government agencies exist to help individuals and families recover from disastrous events – no matter the scale or type. A few good places to begin your search for assistance include:
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Organized from the federal level, FEMA is often a great central resource for large scale emergency situations and can point you toward more local organizations for smaller scale disasters.
  • The Disaster Center: this website is a good centralized page to look up information on multiple national agencies.
  • [Your State's] Division of Emergency Management: Run by each state, they will be aware about and sensitive to the local natural disasters which occur and will be able to put you in contact with additional charitable organizations.
  • ASPCA Disaster Relief: Don't forget about who your pets can turn to in the event of an emergency

There are countless other state and local agencies well worth taking a few minutes to investigate. It might be a good idea as part of your emergency plan to compile a list of a few assistance organizations you will consider contacting for aid and relief in case of an emergency. Your insurance agent or attorney may be able to provide you with more.

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