National Flood Insurance claims are demanding. I watched and listened to the National Flood Adjuster’s briefing yesterday afternoon. Most policyholders have no idea that National Flood claims are the most difficult property insurance claims to file correctly and that the National Flood insurance adjuster has no authority. The field flood adjuster is only an accommodation for the policyholders and is there to assist in making the claim. National flood claims are draconian due to technical details that are very difficult to fight.
As evidence, there is ongoing congressional legislation aimed at reforming the National Flood claims handling process. A press release, Menendez, Cassidy Introduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Bill to Reform National Flood Insurance Programnoted:
Claims and Appeals Process Reforms Based on Lessons from Sandy. Fundamentally reforming the claims process based on lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy and other disasters, to level the playing field for policyholders during appeals or litigation, prohibiting aggressive legal tactics that prevent homeowners from filing legitimate claims, holding FEMA to strict deadlines so that homeowners receive prompt and fair payments and ends FEMA̵7;s reliance on outside legal counsel from expensive for-profit entities.
I recently wrote about these congressional reform efforts before Hurricane Ian hit Are some executives running the National Flood Insurance Program corrupt?:
Knowing that National Flood customers were relying on National Flood’s own words to prove that more money was owed, National Flood administrators simply changed the manual to cheat their customers of money that was excessively owed. That is not right.
Congress should conduct an investigation and reform the National Flood Insurance Program. The manager should “clean house” to get administrators who demand privacy. It is obviously driven in part by those who want policyholders to be bailed out by technical requirements and who will change the rules midstream to win at all costs.
The problem with the national flood program is that damage management is governed by hundreds of technical requirements. Claims officers and their outside counsel say they are “sorry about the harsh outcome, but we are bound by the letter of the federal law.” The National Flood Program needs an anti-technical claims provision that benefits the citizens who buy the product rather than technical loopholes for bureaucrats to avoid paying otherwise legitimate claims.
To be fair, the National Flood adjuster did a good job paying damages after Hurricane Katrina. We only filed a handful of flood lawsuits. Everything changed with Superstorm Sandy when we represented hundreds of commercial, condominium and home insurance policyholders with litigious flood claims. Louisiana’s federal courts remain full of recent National Flood claims.
Hopefully this will change. The tone and message from the flood officers at yesterday’s briefing was to take care of the policyholders. My hope is that they will.
For my part, I will make my political leaders known to change laws and reform the National Flood Program so that these National Flood Regulators cannot harm Hurricane Ian flood victims under the guise of “following the law.”
If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.
—Louis D. Brandeis