Pallone to FEMA: Don’t Obstruct Flood Insurance Claims for Sandy Victims

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today voicing his concerns that the process for New Jersey residents placing claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for damages sustained from Superstorm Sandy is wrought with delays and unnecessarily complicated.

Pallone, who represents some of the hardest hit areas along the Jersey Shore, sent the letter to Fugate in response to constituents with NFIP flood insurance plans who have faced significant roadblocks in getting their claims processed.  In the letter, Pallone called the complications “unacceptable” and called on Fugate to take immediate steps to ease the process of making flood insurance claims

The following is the body of the letter:

 

February 5, 2013

W. Craig Fugate
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate,       

I write today regarding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and to bring attention to issues residents of New Jersey are having with the prolonged timeframe by which these claims are being processed.  As you know, Superstorm Sandy devastated my district and a large portion of New Jersey.  Many homeowners and businesses in the damaged areas have flood insurance policies through NFIP and are relying on these claim payments as they prepare to rebuild and repair their homes and businesses. 

That is why I am troubled to learn that residents of New Jersey are facing myriad problems that are delaying processing of their NFIP claims.  Since NFIP has no time frame by which claims adjusters must complete the proof of loss required to process payments and these adjusters are facing a workload of up to 150 cases each, New Jersey homeowners and businesses have been left waiting for a resolution for an unacceptable period of time.

I have also been told that homeowners are being required to fill out lengthy forms to provide receipts, serial numbers and photographic evidence of losses, which is difficult for many homeowners who lost everything they own.  NFIP-required audits are also slowing down this process and making it difficult for adjusters to process claims quickly.  While I certainly support ensuring that overpayment and fraud is avoided, we must make certain the residents of New Jersey receive the payments they deserve without unnecessary bureaucratic delay.

According to Governor Chris Christie, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance is receiving more than 3 NFIP complaints for every homeowner insurance complaint.  They have also notified me that over 85 percent of homeowner insurance claims have been processed compared to only 30 percent of flood claims.

It is simply unacceptable for residents of New Jersey, who have faithfully paid flood insurance premiums for years, to be left in the lurch when they need this assistance the most.  It has now been 101 days since the storm and recent reports in the press state that thousands of people in the area are still in hotels.  It must be assumed that many of them are there because they are unable to repair their homes to date without this critical assistance.  I respectfully request that you take necessary steps within your power to cut the red tape and expedite the NFIP claims process so that New Jersey homeowners and businesses can begin the path to recovery.

Sincerely,

FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress

"I’m excited as hell about CD 5. We have encouraged Congressman [Steve] Israel to get involved in CD 5."
—Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie