Smith: FEMA Set to Launch Review of NFIP Claims from Superstorm Sandy
Agency commits to review every claim, use homeowner’s evidence, offer 3rd party review
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) released the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) congressional briefing on the implementation of the Sandy Claims Review Process:
“Sandy victims insured through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will finally be given the due consideration and comprehensive analysis they have been entitled to all along. These hard-fought-for reforms announced today incorporate critical safeguards that we have advocated for in our discussions with FEMA to ensure a process that works for New Jersey residents,” said Smith.
“The revised plan includes a full review of each claim one-by-one with fresh eyes, the use of the homeowner’s evidence of an underpayment as the basis for a final determination, and the option of a third party neutral review. These changes are designed to protect victims from systemic underpayments and fraudulent operators. I will continue to work with my colleagues in our Delegation to ensure the administration delivers for Sandy victims.”
“Each policyholder who wishes to have their claim reviewed will be assigned a caseworker—a certified NFIP flood adjuster—who will walk them through the process,” continued Smith. “FEMA has assured us that these caseworkers have been handpicked based on experience and have undergone thorough training to ensure that policyholders get every dime they deserve. In addition, if policyholders choose to have the final determination reviewed by the neutral third party, FEMA says it will give great deference to that review.”
FEMA plans to begin sending letters on May 18th to NFIP policyholders who filed Sandy-related claims. Letters will be sent in batches by ZIP code over several weeks, and policyholders will be given 90 days from the date of the notice to contact FEMA by phone or online to begin the review process.
“Resolving these claims will allow us to establish an equitable system moving forward that properly evaluates all evidence and offers no incentives to push down or deflate fair payments to policyholders,” said Smith. “I encourage anyone seeking assistance with this process to contact me.”
Smith led a NJ delegation meeting with FEMA’s Brad Kieserman, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance, in March to address charges of fraud and underpayments of flood insurance claims to Sandy victims and discuss the reopening of such claims. Kieserman pledged to establish a robust and thorough claims process to review all potential Sandy-related underpayments.
Smith, the Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, was joined in the March meeting by Reps. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), and Scott Garrett (NJ-05), as well staff representing other Members of the delegation.
Congressman Smith, who represents New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District in the House of Representatives, has offices in Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties. The Monmouth County office is located at 112 Village Center Drive, Raintree Towne Center, 2nd floor. The phone number is (732) 780-3035. The Ocean County office is located at the crossroads of Route 539 and Route 537 in Plumsted, and constituents can call the office at (609) 286-2571.