After a large-scale disaster such as Hurricane Harvey, both homeowners and commercial property owners will need all the help they can get to move on. Attorney Bill Voss examines the different relief options for business owners, and offers tips on getting the most out of your insurance claim.
Resources and Assistance for Hurricane-Damaged Businesses in Texas
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers not just disaster relief for those whose houses have been destroyed, it also offers a wide range of assistance for local businesses whose property and revenue have been affected by a storm. Although FEMA does not offer grant assistance to businesses damaged by a hurricane, it does offer other forms of relief, including:
- Insurance claim relief. Business owners will depend on their insurance companies to provide fast and complete payment in order to make repairs and reopen. Unfortunately, insurers are hit with thousands of claims after a large-scale disaster, and may attempt to save as much money as possible by underpaying claims. In addition, some policies may cover only property damage from a hurricane and exclude payments for business income and other losses. In these cases, FEMA offers help to underinsured business or those who are kept waiting for insurance payouts.
- Business physical disaster loans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to non-profit organizations and businesses of all sizes that have sustained damage in a disaster. These loans issue up to $2 million to qualified businesses for the repair or replacement of real estate, inventory, business equipment, personal property, and other assets. In addition, borrowers who make improvements that reduce the risk of future disaster property damages are eligible for a loan increase (up to 20 percent) above the cost of property damage.
- Economic injury loan. The SBA offers a dedicated Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) to businesses that are unable to pay ordinary operating expenses and meet necessary financial obligations after a hurricane. To qualify, businesses must have suffered substantial economic injury and be located in a declared disaster area. The EIDL is especially helpful to small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, and private nonprofit organizations that are unable to obtain credit elsewhere. A business may qualify for both an EIDL and a physical disaster loan through SBA, but a business is not required to have sustained property damage in order to qualify for an EIDL. The amount issued in an EIDL will be based on each business’s financial needs and will provide the necessary capital to allow small businesses to survive until normal operations have resumed. Interest rates on EIDLs are guaranteed to remain below four percent per year, and loan terms cannot exceed 30 years. The loan also has flexible repayment options tailored to each business’s ability to repay the loan.
- Farm loans. Agricultural businesses hit by a hurricane may receive loans through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to provide working capital and repair or replace damaged property that exceeds the limits of commercial insurance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Extension Service also provides help to farmers and ranchers through information on the proper cleanup techniques, property protection from common disaster hazards, insect control, food preparation, and renovations of damaged equipment and property.
- Vehicle and construction partnerships. Property owners are encouraged to register at www.DisasterAssistance.gov to make use of tools and resources offered by FEMA-approved partners, such as towing companies, contractors, independent drivers and haulers.
If you are one of the thousands of businesses struggling to recover after a major disaster in Texas, we can help you collect fair payment from an insurer after a storm. We will review your hurricane insurance policy, examine flood insurance and other specialized coverage, and make sure that you receive the amount you deserve for all losses you have suffered. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.