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DONOVAN, RICE INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN FLOOD INSURANCE REFORM LEGISLATION

Bill would put policyholder priorities first in flood claims process, eliminate ‘earth movement’ as excuse to withhold payment

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Washington, November 19, 2015 | Coleman Lamb ((202) 225-5516) | comments

WASHINGTON – Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (NY-4) today introduced the bipartisan Flood Insurance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015. The legislation combines ideas from both parties and both houses of Congress to improve the National Flood Insurance Program. Common among all of the reforms contained in the legislation is a commitment to putting the policyholder first. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is also leading companion legislation in the Senate.

Congressman Donovan said, “I’m proud of the collaboration between Republicans and Democrats in the two houses of Congress. Our bill will codify what should be a basic tenet of the National Flood Insurance Program: put the policyholder first.”

“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, millions of New Yorkers turned to the National Flood Insurance Program for help,” said Congresswoman Kathleen Rice. “But as we know now, too many legitimate claims were denied or underpaid because of fraudulent engineering reports, and too many people were left feeling cheated by a program that they trusted to be there when they needed it most. This bipartisan legislation is a critical first step toward restoring that trust. The bill introduces common-sense reforms that will bring more transparency to the insurance claims process, provide victims with the resources they need to effectively navigate the claims appeals process, and eliminate loopholes that allowed insurance companies to deny or underpay claims. Ultimately, this bill will help ensure that homeowners in New York and across the country receive the funds they need to recover from future natural disasters. I’m eager to work with my colleagues to get this bill passed and sent to the President’s desk.”

“Three years after superstorm Sandy tore through New York, communities are still rebuilding and families are still fighting to put their lives back together,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is unacceptable that some New Yorkers were forced to face a burdensome and fraud-ridden flood insurance claims process. We need to reform the system and require more transparency to hold FEMA accountable so that homeowners are protected when the next storm hits. I’m proud to partner with Dan Donovan and Kathleen Rice in introducing this new legislation that would create unprecedented oversight over FEMA and hold them accountable so that New Yorkers never again have to face the endless red tape and fraud-ridden claims process they have been forced to endure over the last three years since Super Storm Sandy.”  

The Flood Insurance Transparency and Accountability Act requires post-disaster damage inspection reports to be provided to the flood insurance policyholder first, before any other agency or supervisor. This simple reform will prevent the type of engineering report fraud that victimized homeowners after Superstorm Sandy.

The bill also prohibits FEMA from denying flood insurance claims based on earth movement.

Further, the legislation amends the flood claim appeals process to allow policyholders more time when considering their legal options. It also establishes a direct point of contact within the Flood Insurance Advocate’s office for policyholders to discuss their claims and appeals statuses.

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