Pallone Calls for Swift Action for Sandy Fraud Victims

May 4, 2016 Issues: Hurricane Sandy

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) led a bipartisan letter from members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to Administrator Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that it take swift action on behalf of those who have suffered from documented, widespread fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The lawmakers asked for an explanation of why it is taking FEMA so long to process the insurance claims of these victims and to detail the steps FEMA is taking to swiftly rectify the situation.

Representatives Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Donald Norcross (NJ-1) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) also signed the letter.

“Sandy victims have already suffered enough. To undercut or deny payments to these homeowners as they try to rebuild is absolutely unacceptable,” said Congressman Pallone. “FEMA has a responsibility to inform the public about this fraud that we are learning is widespread and to implement processes to ensure that disaster victims get the resources they are rightfully owed.”

Last May, The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) announced that it would begin a process requested by Pallone and other New Jerseys members of Congress to review flood insurance claims filed by policyholders affected by Hurricane Sandy.  FEMA did this after Pallone and other Members sent a letter to FEMA requesting that it establish a process allowing homeowners to easily file an appeal if they believe they have been a victim of an intentionally altered engineering report.

The full text of the letter is attached and  below:

 

W. Craig Fugate

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

500 C Street SW

Washington, DC 20472

 

Dear Administrator Fugate:

 

We write requesting swift action on behalf of our constituents who suffered from documented, widespread fraud perpetrated by private insurance companies servicing National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claims in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  We are deeply troubled by the fact that – almost four years after their homes and businesses were destroyed – many of these victims have yet to have their claims resolved by FEMA.  FEMA’s slowness in resolving these claims is not acceptable.

In March 2015, when FEMA acknowledged responsibility for its failures and began contacting tens of thousands of New Jersey homeowners whom they suspected of being victims of insurance fraud, the agency committed to processing the claims of fraud victims fairly and efficiently.  This has not been done. FEMA’s deadline for homeowners to submit claims was October 15, 2015. According to a NFIP Transformation Task Force Update, dated April 22, 2016, FEMA has only fully processed roughly half of these claims.  Our constituents deserve much better.  FEMA needs to step up the pace. 

We request that you promptly provide us with an explanation of why it is taking FEMA so long to process the insurance claims of these victims, especially in New Jersey, and to detail the steps FEMA is taking to swiftly rectify the situation.

We are committed to ensuring that our constituents have a fair and speedy process to receive the resources of which they have been unfairly deprived.  Time is of the essence for our constituents who have needlessly suffered while this process has dragged out.  You can be assured that we will continue to be engaged on this critical issue.

 

                                                                        Sincerely,