Following on-going allegations that some Superstorm Sandy flood insurance claims were handled fraudulently, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will, starting this week, offer victims insured through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) the option to review their claims.
The allegations were raised following accounts of unlicensed engineers preparing insurance reports, and of some of the engineering reports being fraudulently altered to reduce insurance payouts. Among FEMA’s concerns is that some victims of fraud have not made complaints nor filed lawsuits, and in light of this, a FEMA representative has made it clear that “if [victims] are owed money, we pay”.
Letters will be sent to all Sandy victims who submitted flood insurance claims under the NFIP, explaining the review process which has been “designed to protect victims from systemic underpayments and fraudulent operators”. Anyone who believes they were treated unfairly or defrauded will have the opportunity to submit their claim for review.
This news comes shortly after FEMA requested around 3,600 households to return a total of US$24 million of overpaid emergency funding that was paid out to families immediately following the disaster. So far, FEMA funding assistance to individual Sandy survivors has totalled approximately US$1.4 billion, aside from assistance to local governments, and the review will likely cause this figure to rise.