TRENTON, NJ – Responding to the Christie Administration’s request for an extension of the deadline for consumers to file flood insurance claims related to Superstorm Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that New Jersey residents and businesses will have an additional six-months to file a complete flood insurance claim, or proof of loss, in connection with damages from the storm. FEMA announced that the deadline for filing proof of loss documentation has been extended from April 28, 2014 to October 28, 2014. Governor Christie asked FEMA for the deadline extension on April 8.
“The extension of this deadline gives New Jersey residents and businesses vital additional time to complete their flood insurance claims,” said Governor Christie. “Many of the storm’s victims found further damage to their homes and businesses as they began to rebuild and they simply need more time to gather all of the documentation to finalize their flood claims. We thank FEMA for granting this extension.”
A proof of loss is a form used by the policyholder to support the amount they are claiming under the policy, which must then be signed, sworn and submitted to the insurance company with proper supporting documentation. FEMA’s extension of the filing deadline gives homeowners or business owners more time to file a supplemental flood insurance claim and more time to submit supporting documents necessary for the proof-of-loss document.
FEMA has extended the deadline to file proof of loss documents twice before. In November 2012, FEMA extended the 60-day timeframe for filing Superstorm Sandy-related proof of loss documents to October 29, 2013, one year from the date Superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey. In October 2013, the deadline was extended another six months until April 28, 2014.
Governor Christie’s letter of April 8, 2014 also reiterated a request to FEMA made in December 2013, which sought clarification of the interplay between the extended proof of loss deadline and the one-year statute of limitations for filing litigation relating to flood insurance claims. Both Administration letters to FEMA asked the agency to interpret the one-year time period as beginning only after the denial or partial disallowance of a claim following the policyholder’s submission of the last timely filed proof of loss. The clarification would mean that the one-year window for residents to file Sandy related lawsuits would not begin until after a claim was perfected, possibly by the submission of multiple proofs of loss, and thereafter denied.
FEMA did not address that issue in its announcement this week.
“This deadline extension is good news for New Jersey consumers who are still struggling with the flood insurance claims process,” said Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski. “As we all know, New Jersey suffered unprecedented damage in Superstorm Sandy, and it is of the utmost importance that residents and business owners who suffered loss or damage to their properties file an accurate, comprehensive and complete flood insurance claim.”
The FEMA bulletin can be found here: http://bsa.nfipstat.fema.gov/wyobull/2014/w-14017.pdf.