FEMA in Settlement Talks Over Sandy Flood Insurance Claims

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is currently trying to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by victims of Hurricane Sandy who contested denials or alleged underpayments of flood insurance claims. Recently, private insurers working in partnership with FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program have been subjected to scrutiny based on allegations that they denied or rejected damage claims by using information from falsified reports. About 1,500 cases over flood claims from Hurricane Sandy are currently pending in New York and New Jersey. The deputy associate administrator for insurance at FEMA, Brad Kieserman, said that the agency would also consider settlements with homeowners with disputed payments who did not sue.

One recent proceeding from a Brooklyn federal court focused on claims by Deborah Ramey, who alleged that a rental property she owned in Long Beach was severely damaged as a result of flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, yet was falsely described as having had long-term damage by an engineer working on behalf of Wright Flood National Insurance Co. In an earlier proceeding, Ms. Ramey pointed to conflicting reports from the engineering firm, U.S. Forensic LLC, that were used to deny her Sandy-related claim. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Brown is now considering whether to penalize Wright Flood as well as a law firm that represented it and other insurers.

The case is Raimey (Ramey) v. Wright National Flood Insurance Company, 2:14-cv-00461, in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Central Islip).