Natural disaster assistance for your HVAC system

HVAC Logo IconBy HVAC.comAugust 1, 2023

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If a natural disaster damaged your whole-home HVAC system, you might be eligible for financial assistance.

Whether a hurricane, flood, earthquake, or other “Act of God” harmed your HVAC equipment, you have options to consider for repair or replacement.

Read on to discover how to check for HVAC coverage and where to apply for federal assistance.

HVAC damage covered by warranty

When you purchased your heating and cooling equipment, it came with an HVAC warranty from the manufacturer. In most cases, you must register your system for complete warranty coverage. 

If you didn’t keep the paperwork, you can look up your warranty information on the manufacturer’s website. You’ll likely need the unit’s serial number, which you can find printed on the equipment.

Typically, the manufacturer’s warranty on HVAC equipment only covers parts with normal wear-and-tear. It generally does not cover damage from Acts of God, like lightning strikes, storms, or fires. However, it never hurts to check.

HVAC damage covered by homeowners’ insurance

In many cases, this is your best bet for coverage of HVAC damage. Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage to home systems by natural disasters.

Homeowners’ insurance generally doesn’t cover damage to heating and cooling units caused by normal wear-and-tear or lack of maintenance.

In some areas, your homeowners’ insurance may require special coverage like flood or hurricane insurance. If you don’t have the appropriate coverage, you may be out of luck when filing a claim.

Note that homeowners’ insurance will only cover whole-home heating and cooling equipment, like central air. It will not protect portable systems like window air conditioners

HVAC damage covered by home warranty

Home warranties provide reduced-cost repair and service visits necessitated by wear-and-tear and natural aging. They do not usually cover damage caused by natural disasters. 

Depending on your required service, your home warranty may pay for labor related to your issue. However, it will not cover the physical repair or replacement of your damaged HVAC unit.

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Federal funding for HVAC damage

If your insurance does not cover your damaged HVAC system or if you don’t have insurance, you may be able to apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

The president must declare the natural disaster in which your equipment was damaged an emergency to qualify for FEMA assistance. You can find a list of current FEMA disasters here

Depending on the extent of the damage, FEMA may pay for:

  • Cleaning your HVAC equipment
  • Testing your equipment for damage
  • Repairing damaged equipment
  • Replacing destroyed HVAC systems

If your small business was affected by a natural disaster, check out the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Disaster Assistance program. 

How to apply for FEMA assistance

There are four ways to apply for help from FEMA:

Before you apply, make sure you:

#️⃣ Know your Social Security Number
🪪 Have proof of identification (e.g., valid driver’s license, passport, etc.)
🏠 Can provide proof of occupancy/ownership for the property impacted
☂️ Know your insurance policy numbers (if relevant)
✉️ Have an insurance determination letter (if insured)
👀 Can describe the damage to your property and list lost/damaged items
📷 Have photos of the damage to your property
💰 Know your annual household income
🏦 Can provide direct deposit information (bank, account number, routing number, etc.)
📱 Can list contact information (mailing address, phone number, etc.)

You may file an appeal for additional funds if you discover HVAC damage after you’ve received FEMA assistance that did not cover the system. To file an appeal, you need to send a letter requesting additional funds with a verifiable estimate or an itemized receipt from your contractor stating:

  • The actual cost paid or estimated cost
  • Proof that the repair or replacement was not an upgrade
  • Proof that the work was necessary to make the home habitable
  • Proof that the damage was related to a FEMA-approved disaster

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