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A Roadmap for Insurance Claims after a Natural Disaster

CFP Board Ambassador offers tips for financial recovery for those affected by Harvey, Irma

Livonia, Mich., September. 18, 2017 – After the winds end and the waters recede, people affected by the two monster hurricanes in the southern United States will need to move fast, keep records and become their own advocates if they are to recover financially, according to CFP Board Ambassador Robert Schmansky, CFP®.

“The road to rebuilding after natural disasters is long and full of uncertainty,” said Schmansky. “If there is anything that can come from an emergency it may be that they hopefully remind the rest of us of the importance of preparing for the unknown and those things that can throw off our plans before disaster strikes.”

Many people whose property has been damaged by a flood learn quickly that standard homeowners’ policies cover structural and water damage only in limited circumstances, like when a falling tree knocks a hole in a roof or breaks a window, allowing rain to fall inside. Most policies do not cover damages that result from rising water, unless the homeowner lives in a designated flood zone and has purchased insurance through the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program. (To make a claim through FEMA, go to There are reports that up to 80 percent of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey do not have flood insurance, Schmansky said. For those who do not have flood insurance, the government may step in with a safety net. Americans affected can check with to learn the details about how to get assistance. In the latest contribution to, CFP Board offers guidelines to help people filing insurance claims after a natural disaster, including:

  • Act fast and document everything. Those affected should take photos before moving any damaged items. Experts also recommend making claims as soon as possible, because insurance companies work on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Wait before making permanent repairs. An insurance adjustor will visit the property to survey the damage, and residents will need to agree on the value of repairs. Before making temporary repairs to prevent further damage, inform the company.

  • Make sure the adjustor represents your insurer. In a widespread disaster, there will be independent insurance adjustors on the scene, which means it’s important to make sure the adjustor works for your insurer. You can also ask for the name of the internal adjustor to whom the independent adjustor is sending information.

  • Remember settlement offers can be negotiated. The insurance company may not be taking into account regional differences in the costs of materials and labor, for instance.

  • Keep a paperwork trail and register complaints in writing. There are places to turn for help, including state insurance commissioners.

Of course, the time to examine the details of your insurance policies is before a disaster. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals can help Americans ensure they are fully covered.

ABOUT CFP BOARD The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board’s mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 80,000 individuals to use these marks in the U.S.

CONTACT: Jessica Lewis, Communications Specialist P: 202-379-2256 Twitter: @cfpboardmedia


Robert Schmansky is the founder of Clear Financial Advisors of Metro-Detroit and Ann Arbor. Rob has over a decade of experience helping individuals and families meet their financial goals and overcome money concerns. He is frequently quoted in the media on issues regarding personal financial planning, and has been a contributing writer for U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, and Yahoo!Finance, and an investment expert for FiLife, a former Dow Jones/IAC joint Internet venture. He has been an adjunct instructor of economics and the required courses for candidates to sit for the CFP® exam. Rob was named a Top 100 Most Influential Advisor by Investopedia, 40 Under 40 financial planning professional by InvestmentNews, and he is the 2013 PlanPlus Global Financial Planning Awards North American finalist.

CONTACT: Robert Schmansky, CFP® P: 248-677-1762 E: W: Twitter: @moneyclarity

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