Hurricane Harvey: How to get—and give—help

Hurricanes and other disasters pose a set of overwhelming difficulties. For all those affected by Hurricane Harvey, the following checklist will help you know what to deal with now as well as later, including information on long-term tax relief and sources of emergency liquidity.

Things to do now

  • Make a list of damages: It can be helpful to draw a floorplan to help recall what was in the space and to detail structural damage.
  • File claims quickly with your insurance company, FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program, or any other organizations helping with disaster recovery.
  • Document all interactions. Because insurance agents can become overwhelmed, take multiple pictures. To the extent possible, make only the repairs needed to prevent further damage, as adjusters often need to see the damage themselves.
  • Save all receipts related to replacement housing, including food costs, additional costs for transportation and storage expenses. You also may be eligible to receive an advance from the insurance company for these costs.
  • Apply for a small business disaster loan if applicable. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans in declared disaster areas not only to businesses and private non-profit organizations, but to homeowners and renters as well. You can find more information and apply online here.
  • Evaluate sources of emergency liquidity whether through a HELOC or other lines of credit, borrowing from retirement plans, or other options. We can help you determine what makes sense for your individual situation.
  • Getting children back to school: Visit the Texas Education Agency for additional information/assistance for students displaced by disasters here.

What to do next

  • Replace lost documents such as car titles, birth certificates and Social Security cards. Click here for links and resources.
  • Taxes: Generally, people who live in federally declared disaster areas may be eligible to delay tax filings and payments without penalty.
  • Repairing/rebuilding your home: As you prepare to make repairs or potentially rebuild, review steps you can take to protect yourself against fraud.

 

 

 

Hurricane Harvey: Ways to help

Hurricane Harvey is one of the most devastating events in U.S. history. As you think about supporting recovery efforts, The Philanthropy Centre at J.P. Morgan has identified a number of organizations to consider.

“We created this list to help educate our clients on the relief efforts taking place to rebuild the communities affected,” says Diane Whitty, Global Head of The Philanthropy Centre.

The population of the affected area is four times greater than that of Hurricane Katrina, and losses could ultimately reach more than 1% of U.S. gross domestic product. While some of the impact can be estimated—40,000 homes destroyed and 25,000 jobs lost—it is impossible to measure the degree of suffering facing Houston-area residents now and for months and years to come.

“We stand alongside the people of the greater Houston region as they work to recover from tragic flooding and rainfall as a result of Hurricane Harvey,” said Karen Persichilli Keough, Head of Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, which has donated $1 million to relief efforts and is waiving consumer banking fees for customers.

Organizations focused on relief and recovery1

Rebuild Texas Fund
The Rebuild Texas fund will help people in their time of greatest need, and also address the long-term rebuilding efforts ahead. Created by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation with an initial $18 million donation, Rebuild Texas will support all of the Texas communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey in four initial focus areas—health and housing; schools and child care; workforce and transportation; and capital for rebuilding small businesses. Administrative costs will be covered by the One Star Foundation and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which means 100% of donations will go directly toward relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts.

 

“We stand alongside the people of the greater Houston region as they work to recover from tragic flooding and rainfall as a result of Hurricane Harvey.”

 

Global Giving
This crowdfunding website has set a fundraising goal of $5 million to provide food, water and medicine, as well as to assist with longer-term recovery assistance.

UNICEF USA
UNICEF USA will leverage its relationships with local partners in Texas to provide access to resources, protection and assistance to the most vulnerable children, including immigrants, refugees, displaced and unaccompanied children and those living in poverty. It will also support the Houston Independent School District’s efforts to get one million children affected by the storm back to school in safe, healthy learning environments by providing school supplies, psychosocial support, temporary learning and therapeutic kits and technical expertise. All donations made to UNICEF USA for Hurricane Harvey relief will go directly to help the children impacted by the hurricane.

The Philanthropy Centre at J.P. Morgan can help connect you with like-minded individuals, foundations and charitable organizations focused on relief efforts for areas affected by hurricanes and other disasters. For more information, we invite you to contact us and a J.P. Morgan representative will be in touch with you.

1This information is provided for educational purposes only and reflects the organizations’ descriptions of their efforts, which J.P. Morgan has not independently verified. J.P. Morgan does not endorse or solicit funds for nonprofit organizations. We strongly recommend that, as a matter of course, you consult with your professional legal and tax advisors before contributing to any charitable group.

 

 

 

Additional Resources

File claims as quickly as possible

Homeowners’ insurance applies if storm damage is from the top down, such as wind-related damage.

  • Find or obtain a copy of your policy and carefully read it to determine such details as what’s covered and deadlines for giving notice of loss to insurer.
  • Take photos and videos before making repairs.
  • Make a list of damaged or lost items.
  • Keep receipts for any repair expenses and additional living expenses while away from home.
  • Give your insurance company a list of all expenses.
  • Check your policy for deadlines or special requirements.
  • Send in proof of loss and other documents the policy requires to obtain coverage and payments.
  • Request partial or advance payments from your insurance company as needed.
  • Keep notes when you talk with your insurance company, agent or broker, and retain all related letters, emails and other correspondence.
  • Review checks, payments, letters, emails and other documents from your insurance company.
  • Follow up with your insurance company about your claim.

Flood insurance applies if damage is from the bottom up, such as flooding due to Hurricane Harvey.

  • Coverage: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides basic coverage of up to $250,000 for building property and up to $100,000 for contents.
    • If you are a policyholder, you also may be eligible to receive up to $5,000 in advance for building and contents damages prior to an adjuster’s inspection with a signed advance payment request agreement.
    • If you have photos and receipts that support out-of-pocket expenses, you may receive an advance payment of up to $10,000.
  • Information for filing claims: See www.fema.gov/nfip-file-your-claim or call (800) 427-4661 if you are unable to locate policy information.
  • Document all interactions. Because insurance agents can become overwhelmed, take multiple pictures. To the extent possible, make only the repairs needed to prevent further damage, as adjusters often need to see the damage themselves.
  • Request partial or advance payments from your insurance company as needed.
  • Keep notes when you talk with your insurance company, agent or broker, and retain all related letters, emails and other correspondence.
  • Review checks, payments, letters, emails and other documents from your insurance company.
  • Follow up with your insurance company about your claim.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance

Homeowners’ insurance applies if storm damage is from the top down, such as wind-related damage.

  • Areas eligible include: Aransas, Austin, Bee, Bastrop, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller and Wharton counties (as of September 6, 2017).
  • Applying for assistance: Visit disasterassistance.gov to research and apply for aid. For more information on government efforts related to Hurricane Harvey, visit USA.gov/hurricane-harvey
  • Information you will need to apply for assistance:
    • Social Security number
    • Temporary and permanent addresses
    • Phone number
    • Insurance information
    • Household income
    • Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit of disaster-assistance funds

Emergency liquidity

  • Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC): An existing HELOC can be used for additional liquidity.
  • Lines of credit: We can help you open an unsecured line of credit, or a line of credit secured by your investments held at J.P. Morgan.
  • Other emergency resources may include loans from retirement plans (generally limited to the lesser of $50,000 or half of the account balance) or loans against the cash value of life insurance policies.

Resources for replacing important documents

1. Car title

  • Replace any missing car titles. Insurance companies will require titles before paying claims. An application is available online and at any driver’s license office.
  • Provide your driver’s license and pay the required fee.

2. Driver’s license

  • Complete the application and bring it to any driver’s license office. An application is available online and at any driver’s license office.
  • Pay the required fee.
  • Provide documents to verify your identity, listed here.
  • Provide lawful presence documents, listed here.

3. Social Security card

  • There is no emergency procedure to replace a Social Security card. To replace one, you will need to complete an application (Form SS-5).
  • To do this, you will need another form of identification, such as a driver’s license. The process is explained on the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov. You can also call (800) 772-1213 or visit a local Social Security office.

4. Birth certificate or marriage license

  • Visit your local courthouse or apply online for vital records, including birth certificate, death certificate, marriage verification, divorce verification.

To request these records from other states, visit the National Center for Health Statistics.

Tax ramifications

  • The IRS will identify individuals and business entities (such as partnerships, trusts and corporations) eligible for extended deadlines of returns and, if applicable, payment of tax.
    • If you live outside the area identified by the IRS, you will need to call the IRS to request tax relief.
    • You can find more comprehensive information on the IRS site here.
  • If you have filed for an extension on 2016 tax returns to file by September 15, 2017, September 30, 2017, or October 16, 2017, the filing deadline has been extended to January 31, 2018.
  • Quarterly estimated payments: If you live in an area affected by Hurricane Harvey, you are eligible to defer third- and fourth-quarter estimated payments, and some other tax filings and payments, to January 31, 2018, without penalty.
  • Deductions on casualty losses: Keep all records of costs related to the disaster. If not reimbursed by insurance, such costs can usually be claimed as a casualty loss on your tax return.
    • If there will be a significant casualty loss, make sure you have the income to offset the loss during the tax year or in the preceding year (i.e., 2016 filings for those who have extended) for losses due to a federally declared disaster such as Harvey.
      • Generally, casualty losses must be at least 10% of your adjusted gross income for the year for you to take the deduction, given adjustments, although some exceptions have been made previously. Visit the IRS at www.IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p547.pdf.
    • This may be an instance in which premature distributions from retirement plans are warranted, as the casualty losses can offset the taxes from the distribution.

Tips for avoiding home-repair fraud

1. Get several bids.

2. Research potential contractors.

3. Get proposals and estimates in writing.

4. Control your payments.

  • Do not pay the entire amount upfront.
  • Do not make final payment until you have inspected the work.
  • Do not pay in cash.

5. Report bad contractors:

NOTE: J.P. Morgan does not offer legal or tax advice.

 

 

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