Hurricane Sandy and VA Advice on Natural Disasters
With Hurricane Sandy dominating news headlines over the weekend of October 26-28, 2012, it seemed like a good idea to discuss the official VA advice for homeowners and VA loan applicants who are dealing with a natural disaster.
According to the VA official site, “If you have a VA loan and your home was affected by a natural disaster, we encourage you to take the steps listed below to ensure you receive the assistance you need.” Those steps include contacting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This step allows you to start the disaster recovery process–borrowers and home owners are directed to begin by going to the Disaster Assistance website or by calling 800‐621‐3362.
According to the VA, “In order to receive the maximum assistance, you must register with FEMA before their deadline expires. Do not pay your loan in full before checking with the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding a loan for the uninsured portion of your loss. Additional support, including low‐interest loans, cash grants, and housing assistance may be available from agencies associated with the disaster recovery effort.” For more information, go to the FEMA website.
Another step in this process for affected VA borrowers? Contacting both your lender and your insurance company. “You are responsible for making regular monthly loan payments, even if your home is not habitable, so contact your lender as soon as possible regarding your loss. If you are unable to make payments on time, we encourage you to discuss forbearance or a loan modification. Also have your lender explain procedures for insurance loss checks, repairs to your property, payments to contractors, etc.”
VA adds some very important advice for VA borrower who needs to file an insurance claim in the wake of a natural disaster. Caution is very important; “File an insurance claim as soon as possible; however, do not make a hasty settlement on insurance. When the property is damaged but repairable, attempt to get your local engineer’s office to inspect your home for structural damage. If possible, get at least two estimates from licensed contractors for cost of repairs or rebuilding.”
Also, “Insurance checks for personal property and living expenses should be payable to you only. Checks for damage to your home should be payable to both you and your mortgage company.”
Borrowers are urged to contact the VA at 877‐827‐3702 to speak with a Loan Specialist about options in the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy. In some cases, where damage to a home purchased with a VA mortgage loan is too great for the borrower to remain there safely, a change of address might be needed in order for you to continue getting VA and other benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs advises, “If you are receiving a monthly benefit check from VA or another source and you will not be able to receive mail at your regular address, notify your local post office and VA Regional Office (benefits.va.gov/homeloans/rlcweb.asp) of your change of address. For information on other VA benefits, call 800‐827‐1000.”
Do you have questions about the VA loan process? Ask us in the comments section.