U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson sent the following letter today to the head of FEMA raising concerns that one of the agency’s top administrators in charge of overseeing the National Flood Insurance Program was previously a senior executive at a company accused of lowballing claims for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Nelson’s letter comes on the heels of reports today in the Palm Beach Post that nine out of ten of flood claims resolved by the National Flood Insurance Program in the wake of Hurricane Irma have been denied.
“NFIP policyholders must have confidence in the claims process,” Nelson wrote. “Unfortunately, this could be seen by some as a case of the fox guarding the hen house.”
Below is the text of Nelson’s letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long.
A copy of today’s Palm Beach Post report is available here.
A 60 Minutes report on the companies accused of lowballing flood insurance claims following Superstorm Sandy is here.
A Washington Examiner report on the FEMA executive’s previous ties to one of the companies accused of lowballing Sandy claims is here.
October 17, 2017
The Honorable William B. Long
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C St., SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Long:
I am writing you to express my concern over recent reporting that approximately 90 percent of resolved claims administered though the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in Florida have so far been denied.
In reviewing the very high level of claims denied to date, I am reminded of serious charges brought against the NFIP by whistleblowers and Superstorm Sandy victims that accused the program of fraudulently reducing and denying claims. These allegations were detailed in a March 2015 investigation by CBS’ “60 Minutes”.
These concerns are reinforced by the fact that a top NFIP administrator was once an executive for a FEMA subcontractor accused of lowballing Sandy claims. Unfortunately, this could be seen by some as a case of the fox guarding the hen house. NFIP policyholders must have confidence in the claims process.
Given these developments, I ask that you immediately:
- Ensure that all claims are treated fairly and handled expeditiously.
- Detail what safeguards FEMA has put in place post-Sandy to prevent Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate victims’ flood insurance claims from being fraudulently denied or reduced.
- Certify that appeals be handled through an open, transparent and independent process.
Families forced out of their homes by these storms deserve prompt and just assistance. I look forward to your response and reassurance that all claimants will be treated fairly by FEMA.