Washington, DC - The 60 Minutes report Sunday about Hurricane Sandy insurance claims is a matter of great concern to me and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. We share the views expressed by FEMA Deputy Associate Administrator Brad Kieserman during the program. Any allegation of fraud is highly troubling, and especially so when it involves Americans who have lost their homes in a natural disaster.
The “Write Your Own” insurance companies that issue policies and process claims for the National Flood Insurance Program represent FEMA and like FEMA they are stewards of taxpayer funds. FEMA has expressed its deepest concern about allegations regarding the integrity of the claims adjustment processes currently under litigation, and it has encouraged a full review of insurance company adjustment and engineering practices to ensure fair treatment of flood survivors.
In addition, FEMA has requested the DHS Office of Inspector General not only investigate allegations of fraud but also review and make recommendations on FEMA’s flood insurance oversight role. In December 2014, as part of that review, FEMA directed the “Write Your Own” companies to obtain and produce all documentation related to the use of engineers to evaluate flood damages. FEMA is also actively engaged in leading efforts to settle claims filed by survivors of Hurricane Sandy.
Anticipating full year funding from Congress, FEMA also took the proactive step of creating an interim office of the Flood Insurance Advocate to ensure policyholders and property owners are treated fairly throughout the process of mapping flood hazards, the identification of risks from flood and the implementation of measures to minimize flood damage. Once there is a full-year budget for the Department of Homeland Security, the Interim Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate will become permanent, with full time staff and resources.
FEMA’s top priority is to help disaster survivors and their communities recover from the devastation of disasters.
FEMA is fully cooperating with policyholders whose claims are under appeal, with the courts and the Inspector General and is seeking to settle as many claims as possible. FEMA will continue to work with Congress to ensure policyholders are paid every dollar to which they are entitled and to improve transparency in the flood insurance program going forward.
Those who purchase insurance must be able to count on it being there when it is needed to help rebuild their lives.
For more information, visit www.dhs.gov.