FEMA to Ask Sandy Homeowners if They Want to Reopen Claims

Homeowners insured through the National Flood Insurance Program who think they were shortchanged for Sandy damage are getting another chance for reimbursement. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin asking whether they want to reopen their claims, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey said in a statement after attending a FEMA briefing Wednesday.

FEMA plans to begin mailing letters on May 18 in batches by ZIP codes over several weeks to nearly 142,000 policyholders who filed Sandy-related claims, Smith said. They will have 90 days from the date of the notice to contact FEMA to begin the review process.

"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," Smith said.

Policyholders who seek a review will be assigned a certified flood adjuster. The congressman said FEMA has assured Congress the caseworkers have been hand-picked based on experience and have been trained to ensure policyholders "get every dime they deserve."

The program has paid out more than $3.5 billion in flood insurance claims to policyholders whose homes were damaged or destroyed. However, the program has drawn scrutiny from Congress after allegations of fraud involving how some insurance companies assessed damage after the October 2012 storm.

Insurers have denied wrongdoing.

"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," Smith said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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