FEMA holds Firm on September 15 Deadline for Filing Sandy Claims
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) appears to be sticking to its September 15, 2015 deadline for reopening Sandy claims, despite the urging of New Jersey's Congressional Delegation to extend the filing date another 90 days.
Roy Wright, FEMA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Litigation, said although the agency is willing to consider requests, he is encouraged by the number of claims already submitted for review, about a month ahead of the filing deadline.
"I have about 10,500 claims that are in review right now and that's of a total of the 144,000 that came in during Sandy. Just in the case of New Jersey, 5,500 New Jersey policy holders are currently in that review, so about 60% of what we're working on is there in New Jersey," said Wright.
Although Wright said he did not have a specific expectation in mind when he started the review process, he is encouraged by the number of claims submitted so far.
"I have committed to ensuring that we deliver for the policy holders, as many as need to come into the process, who believe that they may have received some kind of underpayment," said Wright.
Sandy claimants in the impacted area who have not yet received a full policy limit payout, will be accepted into the review process by FEMA, according to Wright.
Wright explained once FEMA notified 144,000 policy holders that the agency was reopening the Sandy claim process in mid-May, it set a 90-day deadline for filing that began in mid-June. He added the goal of the September 15 deadline is to get people to make the initial call to 866-337-4262 and provide their name and insurance policy number to begin the review process.
"We are then going to pull everything we have from the companies related to their file and then begin to work back through with them. We'll ask them if they have additional information to bring beyond what we have in the file," said Wright. He added seasoned adjusters will walk policy holders through the process.
The review process does not guarantee policy holders an increase in the payout, and the notices FEMA sent about the review process indicated the risk of over payment disclosure.
"In many instances, I think we're going to find upon review that people received the appropriate payment from their claims adjustment, yet I have seen examples where people were underpaid. So, really the thrust of this is to help people have closure and know that they were treated appropriately and received every dollar that they were entitled to under the claims process," said Wright. He noted he has seen very few instances of a review determining over payment.
Wright assured FEMA is committed to providing policy holders with a full understanding of the review process.