With Hurricane Dorian causing flooding on the east coast as we speak the question, I often get asked is: when can I sue my flood insurer for a violation of state law? Recently the Corpus Christi Division of the Southern District of Texas addressed the question.
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This year I’ve been privileged with the opportunity to attend the 2019 National Flood Conference in Washington D.C. The National Flood Conference is a three-day annual event for flood insurance industry professionals, and various other professionals whose industries overlap in some way with flood insurance (think mortgage lenders, insurance agents, mold remediators, attorneys, etc.). Over the course of the next few days I will provide day-by-day recaps of my experience at the National Flood Conference with my thoughts, opinions, and interesting things I’ve learned.
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In my last two posts I wrote about the threatened expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and stop-gap legislation that averted the lapse. NFIP’s authorization to operate is now extended to May 31, 2019. Despite the reauthorization legislation, FEMA announced it would halt NFIP’s authority to issue new and renewal flood policies until the full government reopens, citing the partial shut-down and lapse in appropriations.
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In a recent case,1 a federal court dismissed a flood claim following a nor’easter storm because the insureds’ proof of loss under the National Flood Insurance Act failed to satisfy the Standard Flood Insurance Policy’s (“SFIP”) “signed and sworn” requirement.2 In that case, the insureds submitted two claims to recover damages from the storm to their insurance company. The first claim of approximately $2,000 was completed on a form provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”). Both insureds signed and dated the document, which stated, “I declare under penalty of perjury that the information contained in the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.” Shortly thereafter, the insurance company issued a check to the insureds for the covered building damages.
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Last month the Assistant Administrator for Insurance, Paul Huang, extended the deadline for submitting a Proof of Loss for flood insurance claims. The Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) provides that a proof of loss must be submitted within 60 days of the loss. However, FEMA Bulletin W-18026 waived the 60-day proof of loss deadline, extending the deadline to submit a proof of loss to 365 days (one year) from the date of loss:
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Flood insurance claims are different than regular property insurance claims because virtually all flood insurance claims have to follow federal regulations. The vast majority of all flood insurance policies are written through the National Flood Program. Even if a private company known as a Write Your Own (WYO) is listed as the insurer on the first pages of the policy, these insurers are merely participants in the National Flood Program and the ultimate payments do not come from them but out of the United States Treasury.
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If your home or business was damaged by flood waters from Hurricane Irma and you had flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) the deadline to submit a proof of loss is quickly approaching. The Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) provides that a proof of loss must be submitted within 60 days of the loss. However, FEMA Bulletin W-17040 waived the 60-day proof of loss deadline, extending the deadline to submit a proof of loss to 365 days (one year) from the date of loss.
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