FEMA to Reopen Superstorm Sandy Claims
FEMA to reopen 144,000 flood insurance claims from Superstorm Sandy.
In March, FEMA Administrator Fugate agreed to reopen and review every one of the 144,000 flood insurance claims filed by victims of Superstorm Sandy. 2,200 of these claims are currently in litigation. The agreement comes from allegations that some insurance companies had denied thousands of claims after fraudulently altering engineering reports and that other insurance companies systematically underpaid claims in fear of backlash from FEMA.
So what happens? This announcement allows claimants an alternate means for dispute resolution. Mr. Charles Mathis IV of the Merlin Law Group thinks that going it alone would be tricky for policy holders though. “While FEMA is trying to be transparent and make things right, I don’t anticipate them handing over the claim,” Mathis said. “Part of the problem is two and a half years have passed and it’s going to be very difficult to determine the extent of the damage if people have made repairs. I do think there will be some folks that will need some additional assistance going through the process.” However, FEMA has yet to announce specific details of the resolution process.
What does this mean for the legal community and policy holders? FEMA’s agreement will allow Sandy victims who are non-litigants and believe their claims were unjustly denied or received insufficient payout to reopen their cases and have access to all entering reports. FEMA also agreed to contact claimants by mail and make them aware of the new process and opportunity for review.
In addition to the reopening of cases, FEMA is required to convene a Sandy Task Force today (April 13th) to begin evaluation of the National Flood Insurance Program specifically focusing on reforms. Administrator Fugate also pledged to make senior personnel changes at the National Flood Insurance Program.
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