My father was in the United States Coast Guard and eventually rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. So, I was happy to learn that FEMA’s Craig Fugate appointed a distinguished former Coast Guard Officer, Brad J. Kieserman, to investigate what has been going on regarding WYO insurance claims practices. Here’s an official, and good looking, photo of Kieserman:
In his letter to Judges of the Eastern District of New York, Kieserman explained what he will try to do:
FEMA leadership is deeply troubled by recent allegations that FEMA and the Write Your Own companies may have relied on questionable and subpar engineering reports when adjusting claims. The Administrator has assigned me to lead the effort to identify and address aggressively the root causes underlying these concerns.
While I am unable to speak to the veracity of the allegations regarding the engineering reports, I do know our policyholders now question the integrity of the NFIP claims process. To that end, FEMA is committed to establishing a process to resolve all Hurricane Sandy insurance claims where there is evidence of questionable engineering practices and I am committed to ensuring NFIP business practices going forward are fair and transparent. Consequently, I will be reaching out to plaintiffs’ and defendants’ liaison counsel and Write Your Own Partners to convene a meeting with the objective of resolving all litigation stemming from questionable engineering reports, including Class Action and RICO Claims. At the same time, I am initiating a thorough and multi-disciplinary assessment of FEMA’s delivery and oversight of the Write Your Own Program and adjustment processes, including hiring and relying upon engineering reports to resolve flood insurance claims. I am likewise committed to referring for investigation any appropriate matters we may encounter in the course of the assessment.
I am certain Merlin Law Group’s Javier Delgado who is Co-Plaintiff’s liaison counsel will look forward to these discussions. I hope Brad Kieserman will also come down to the Jersey Shore and visit with the rest of our team litigating WYO flood claims–it is not just a New York issue.
One thing that should not be overlooked is a review of all damage estimates. If FEMA really wants to be transparent, original estimates of damage made by the field adjusters should be compared to subsequent revisions and the justification for those changes. Instances to short-change policyholders are not limited to altered engineering draft reports; revised estimates of benefits due are much more common. The WYO attorneys and insurers are refusing to turn over those documents.
Welcome to the Superstorm Sandy flood show Brad. It is different—with changed motives—than what was going on in Katrina. We have a lot to show and discuss.