WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today reacted a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) that found the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) failed to property administer the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
“The OIG Report once again confirms what I exposed nearly two years ago — that FEMA failed to adequately oversee the private flood insurance companies that carry out the National Flood Insurance Program leading to thousands of Superstorm Sandy survivors in New Jersey being lowballed. FEMA must implement immediate reforms to correct these injustices and ensure the NFIP is more responsive to the policyholder.
“FEMA was happy to give these Write Your Own Insurance Companies (WYOs) a blank check to litigate against Sandy victims with every hard-nosed tactic imaginable, wasting millions of policyholders’ dollars in never-ending court costs to cover up widespread underpayment rather than using even a fraction of that money to pay storm survivors what they were entitled to under their policies. The appeals process that FEMA was supposed to administer was a total shell game that did nothing for underpaid Sandy victims, adjusters lacked the proper state licenses, and evidence emerged that engineering reports were being doctored.
“The OIG report only reinforces why it was necessary for FEMA to adhere to my demands last year to reopen all Sandy claims, which is bringing millions of additional dollars back to Sandy survivors in New Jersey. These families should never have had to wait so long or go through so much just to get what they’re entitled to, but I’m proud I was able to stand by their side and fight for justice.”
Sen. Menendez, who chaired the Sandy Task Force with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.), first exposed the problem of widespread lowballing of flood insurance claims during Congressional hearings he chaired in 2014, and last year successfully pushed FEMA to reopen every Sandy flood insurance claim for review.
Sen. Menendez authored the Superstorm Sandy Relief and Disaster Loan Program Improvement Act, signed into law last November, which extended and expanded access to federal disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). His Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act was signed into law in 2014 to address skyrocketing rates many Sandy survivors were encountering. In 2013, he shepherded the original $60 billion federal Sandy aid package through Congress.