How to get your money

National expert talks about how to deal with FEMA, insurance


Late last month, Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony Santino held a Town Hall meeting that gave residents the chance to speak to town officials in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

In addition to officials, Santino allowed Scott Mager, an independent catastrophe claims specialist, to speak to the large crowd of more than 200 Oceanside and Island Park residents about what they could do to make sure they receive money from their insurance providers and FEMA.

“I have personally been through 12 storms on my own and I have been involved with 24 different storms in different states with different governments in different cities,” Mager said. “Believe me when I tell you when I understand just about every issue that is raised on the city, county, state, federal government, flood coverage you could imagine.”

Mager said that everyone who wants to receive federal aid must register with FEMA by applying for its SBA loan. It doesn’t matter if you accept the loan or not, but applying for it is the way to get in FEMA’s system and is the first step to receiving other aid.

He also said that homeowners should document every aspect of their property for any claim they make. Take pictures and label all of them saying what room of the house it is and what the damage is. “You want to make as much of a detailed, documented claim so there is no dispute, no confusion about what your damage is,” said Mager. It’s also important to see if you have any pictures of your home from before the storm to show how it looked before the damage.

“I was the former national council for one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, and I’m telling you, on the insurance side, we look at documentation,” Mager said. “If people’s properties aren’t documented: denial. As crazy or unfair as that may seem, that’s what they do. The longer the dollars are in their account, they’re making money off those dollars. So if you have pictures or video, it’s important.”

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