Insurance funds are typically the most important and valuable source of help recovering from a disaster, but history has shown those funds don't always flow as they should.  Insurers are for-profit companies with rules and paperwork requirements. Insurance policies are legal contracts. Policyholders (insurance consumers) generally do not know the rules or their rights, and are vulnerable and overwhelmed.  That's where United Policyholders, ("UP") comes in.  

UP is a non-profit organization that has been guiding people through the insurance claim process and advocating for policyholders since 1991.  Through the Roadmap to Recovery™ Program, UP offers tips, tools and information from previous disaster survivors and from experts on insurance claims, legal matters and the rebuilding/repair process.  We also offer educational workshops and long term recovery services after disasters (subject to funding and community support). UP is dedicated to helping insurance consumers.  We accept no funding from insurance companies.   and we are here to help.  Please visit the Disaster Recovery Help section of our website to see where we are currently offering our services.  Roadmap to Recovery services include:

Recovery Tools/Toolkit 

A Roadmap to Recovery Toolkit includes: 

  • The Disaster Recovery Handbook and Household Inventory Guide.  A compact book that captures the highlights of UP's guidance on getting a fair insurance claim settlement for damaged or destroyed property and recovering after a loss. Affectionately known as "the little yellow book," this tool has guided thousands of people through the process of navigating repairs, rebuilding, finances and emotions after a disaster. Written by survivors for survivors, along with expert advice from trusted consumer advocates, construction, tax and financial professionals.
  • The Roadmap to Recovery Organizer.  A diary for keeping track of details, contacts, progress and problems.
  • Home Inventory Flashdrive.  Pre-loaded with a detailed spreadsheet and tips to simplify the task of inventorying losses for insurance and tax purposes.
  • Claim tips and information relevant to specific types of damages/losses and events.

If your home or rental has been damaged or destroyed and you would like any or all of the items in our Roadmap to Recovery toolkit, e-mail a current mailing address to info@uphelp.org, or call 800-286-5631.


The United Policyholders “Ask an Expert” Forum

The UP ”Ask an Expert” forum is an easy and safe way to ask direct questions and get answers from experienced and reputable consumer-oriented attorneys, claim, construction, tax and finance professionals plus previous disaster survivors who serve as UP volunteers.  Your identity and personal information are protected. To use the forum, please visit www.uphelp.org/Ask-an-Expert


Insurance Recovery Library

Tips, sample letters, articles and information on successfully navigating the insurance claim process to collect benefits to repair or rebuild.  The Insurance Recovery Library helps you get oriented and informed so you can be your own best advocate or get the right help when you need it. The library includes:


The Disaster Survivor Support Network 

Support, guidance and encouragement from United Policyholders Disaster Survivor Support Network, ("DSSN"), a corps of 150 volunteers with personal experience recovering from a disaster. DSSN mentors offer a listening ear, confidential emotional support, insurance and rebuilding tips.  

Available support includes telephone, in-person or email contact, plus access to the "Survivors Speak" tip series in the Insurance Recovery Library.  Survivors' Speak tips offer recovery guidance and strategies from the hearts and minds of people in their own words.  While the label "disaster victims" is in common usage, many people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed prefer to be referred to as "survivors" because that term implies strength and a pro-active approach to getting out of a bad situation. 

"Survivor to Survivor Listserv": A restricted access on line discussion forum for DIsaster Survivors only. A safe and convenient way to get and share valuable information with others who are in the process of recovering from a recent wildfire loss. Access limited to people who've had a catastrophic property loss and by invitation only. For more information and/or to receive an invite to the list serve, contact UP Outreach Coordinator Karen Reimus by e-mail at karen@uphelp.org


Roadmap to Recovery™ Educational Workshops  

A core component of the Roadmap to Recovery ("R2R") program is the series of educational workshops we offer in selected regions that have been impacted by large-scale disasters.  R2R workshops are led by UP staff and feature expert speakers including lawyers, construction estimators, building department officials, tax professionals and previous disaster survivors.  Topics follow a standard curriculum and timeline, typically beginning with Insurance 101, Debris removal, Documenting Losses and moving on to other steps on the road to recovering from a serious or total property loss, adapted to address local conditions and issues.  [Workshop availability is subject to funding and community support]. Videos of Roadmap to Recovery workshops can be viewed free of charge 24/7 on our website and on YouTube.


Case Manager Training 

Through in-person trainings and webinars and customized Insurance Help Manuals,  UP provides Case Managers with a basic understanding of home and renters insurance claim and coverage rules and guidance on using United Policyholders’ resources to troubleshoot client problems.  UP Case Manager trainings introduce Case Managers to our resources and strategies for helping clients communicate effectively with adjusters, insurers and others, and stay reasonably organized and confident in financial decision-making throughout the long term recovery.  


Training for Volunteer/pro bono and Legal Aid Attorneys

Following disasters, local bar associations, individual and legal aid attorneys, and law schools may engage in providing legal help to impacted individuals and households.  Through in-person trainings and webinars, UP orients non-specialists, pro bono and Legal Aid services on insurance coverage and claim laws and regulations and best practices for assisting disaster victims.  


Data gathering and surveys

UP conducts surveys in disaster areas in partnership with local agencies.  The goal of the surveys is to to gather data on insurance claims, progress, problems, and payouts at various intervals during the 6, 12 and 24 months following the disaster.  The results provide invaluable information.  View our survey results here.


 

To request Roadmap to Recovery services in your community, please contact Program Coordinator Emily Cabral at Emily@uphelp.org 415-393-9990.


Please note: Roadmap to Recovery™ is a registered trademark of United Policyholders non-profit disaster recovery program and may not be used for commercial purposes.