Followers of our blog have been reading about the flood statute of limitations trap we have been warning about for some time. Essentially, the statute of limitations could run on a flood claim before the extended time limit to file a proof of loss – which is now October 29, 2014. There has been a great deal of pressure from the public and claims handlers to extend the statute of limitations so claimants would not fall victim to the trap.
Today, FEMA released WYO Bulletin W-140361 regarding this issue. In the relatively short bulletin, FEMA concludes: “The statute of limitations is set by statute, and FEMA does not have the authority to revise it.” This signals to policyholder attorneys that FEMA will seek to enforce the statute of limitations even if it might lead to an unjust result. Therefore, it is imperative to know the date the claim was first denied and get a proof of loss submitted, and a lawsuit filed, within 1 year of that date.
The full text of the memorandum is below:
MEMORANDUM FOR: Write Your Own (WYO) Principal Coordinators and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Servicing Agent
FROM: James A. Sadler, CPCU, AIC, Director of Claims Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration
SUBJECT: Meteorological Event Sandy Litigation Statute of Limitations
In various bulletins, the Associate Administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) granted limited waivers of the proof of loss requirement found in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy, 44 C.F.R. § 61, Apps. A(1) and A(2), Section VII(J) and App. A(3), Section VIII(J) to allow up to 24 months for an insured to file a proof of loss in the event of a disputed claim.
As a result, we have been asked to adjust the 1-year statute of limitations found at 42 U.S.C. § 4072 to enable insureds who may have received claim disallowances or partial disallowances over 1 year prior to the submission of a proof of loss to file suit. The statute of limitations is set by statute, and FEMA does not have the authority to revise it.
We ask for your full support. Any questions or comments should be directed to Russell Tinsley, Claims Examiner for the National Flood Insurance Program. Mr. Tinsley may be reached by email at Russell.Tinsley@fema.dhs.gov.