Deadline for Sandy review claims extended
Superstorm Sandy victims have an extra 30 days to file a request for their flood insurance claims to be reviewed.
The last-minute extension by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was announced via email by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez's office Tuesday night.
“I promised to hold FEMA’s feet to the fire and ensure the process was fair and not a repeat of the first attempt. This 30-day extension will help keep that promise and give Sandy survivors the time they need to understand the rules, opt-in and have their claims reviewed," Menendez said.
NJ Advance Media reports that FEMA agreed to extend the deadline following an announcement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that it would forgive benefits, up to $20,000, already given to homeowners.
Menendez had asked HUD to waive any duplication of benefits that results from additional insurance funds months ago during a Sandy Task Force hearing.
While there are over 70,000 homeowners that could have their flood claims reviewed again, only about 20,000 of them have signed up since the process began on May 18.
FEMA said that so far $7.3 million has been approved.
"New Jersey families are getting real money – in some cases tens of thousands of dollars – that they never would have seen had FEMA not acted," Menendez said.
In March, FEMA announced plans to set up a review process in response to the allegations by some homeowners that insurance companies unfairly assessed damage after the October 2012 storm. Insurers have denied any wrongdoing.
In order to request a review, policyholders must have experienced flood damage between Oct. 27, 2012 and Nov. 6, 2012 as a result of Sandy. In addition, policyholders must have had an active NFIP flood policy at the time of the loss.
Policyholders can go online to FEMA's site to download a form requesting a review. The downloaded form can be filled out and emailed to FEMAfirstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 202-646-7970 to begin the review process.
For individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use 711 or VRS, call 866-337-4262. For individuals using a TTY, call 800-462-7585 to begin the review process. For those who choose to call, the Hurricane Sandy Claims Review Center is open between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Policyholders should be prepared to have as much information as possible, including their 10 digit NFIP policy number and the address of the damaged property. A series of questions will be asked to determine whether a review is warranted. If policyholders qualify for a review, they will be called by an adjuster. On average, reviews take about 90 days to conclude, according to FEMA.
"I would encourage any Sandy victim to immediately take FEMA up on its offer to have your claim reviewed," Menendez said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.