FEMA inspectors visit Northern California homes

As residents impacted by wildfires in Lassen, Plumas, Nevada, Placer, Tehama and Trinity counties start their recovery, it’s important they stay informed on what to expect next.

If you applied to FEMA and said you are unable to live in your home due to disaster damage, FEMA may contact you to arrange a home inspection, with social distancing, to view exterior damage.

For initial inspections, FEMA inspectors contact applicants to meet at the address where the damage was reported. During the meeting, inspectors follow social distancing guidelines. The inspector validates damage from the exterior of the home and from questioning the applicant about their damage. The inspector will not enter the home.

The inspector will also record damage to furnishings and major appliances such as — washer, dryer, refrigerator — and other serious needs such as clothing lost or damaged in the disaster. Inspectors use specialized software so that every applicant gets the same inspection. They record losses but do not determine how much assistance you may qualify for.


Things you need when an inspector arrives

  • You or co-applicant must be present.
  • You will need to show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
  • Proof of occupancy such as utility bill, driver’s license, bank statement, medical providers bill in the name of the resident.
  • Owners need to present evidence of ownership such as insurance in the owner’s name, title, mortgage receipts.
  • Renters need to present proof of rental such as rent receipts, lease agreement, utility bill in name of renter, landlord’s name and phone number.

FEMA representatives and contractors will have a laminated badge, and never charge a fee to inspect your property. FEMA inspectors may call or visit your home to perform a FEMA housing inspection. You should request to view their badge before proceeding or providing information.

To protect your privacy and identity, a FEMA inspector will request to view a valid photo ID and verify your information. Be aware that inspectors may call or text from out of area phone numbers.

If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, call the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-3362 to report the incident.

You can find more information about the FEMA inspection process by visiting fema.gov/what-happens-inspection.

A FEMA determination letter, sent by regular mail or email typically within 10 days after the inspection, will include the eligibility decision and an explanation for it. For those who are eligible for assistance, the letter states the dollar amount of the grant and how the money must be used. If you disagree with FEMA’s decision, the letter explains how to appeal the decision.

It is important to read the determination letter carefully. FEMA may request additional information or documentation from an applicant—such as an insurance settlement decision.

Owners and renters whose homes are insured for damage need to submit documentation to FEMA to show their coverage is not enough to meet their disaster-related needs. You can also submit insurance documentation to FEMA if you have run out of the Additional Living Expenses your insurance company provided. FEMA cannot pay for damage covered by insurance or duplicate benefits from another source.

If you need to request an accommodation or have additional questions, call the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-3362 (TTY (800) 462-7585) from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. If you use a relay service, such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel, give FEMA the number for that service.