Sandy Victims Get Extension to File Flood Insurance Claims

Superstorm Sandy

Nearly one year after Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the Eastern Seaboard, victims with homeowners insurance are receiving a much-needed break. FEMA recently announced that it would extend a rapidly approaching deadline to file flood insurance claims that relate to damage from the storm.

FEMA Provides Six-Month Flood Insurance Claims Extension

October 29 marks the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which impacted 24 states, most of which were situated along the East Coast.

The states experiencing the greatest impact were New Jersey and New York, which suffered 60 deaths as a direct result of the storm (more than all other states combined) and left tens of thousands temporarily or permanently without homes.

On the eve of the storm’s anniversary, many homeowners who carried flood insurance did not have an opportunity to file claims that could help pay for the insurmountable damage caused to their homes.

With the original deadline set for Oct. 29, 2013, homeowners found themselves scrambling to file their flood insurance claims because they were still waiting for repair work to begin on their homes, or only recently were alerted to additional expenses as they started to repair and rebuild.

Realizing that many residents would need additional time to file, FEMA announced this week that it would grant a six-month extension.

Superstorm Sandy Victims Face Higher Flood Insurance Premiums

While homeowners are likely relieved to have more time to file flood insurance claims, many are faced with a more challenging dilemma.

With the passing of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act, a federal law passed prior to the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) started phasing out discounts for flood insurance that homeowners had taken advantage of for more than four decades.

Lawmakers said the discounts were being phased out to help provide more funding to the struggling National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is the program that approves and funds flood insurance policies offered through private insurers.

By eliminating the discounts, many homeowners were required to start paying as much as 25 percent more in premium costs, starting on October 1.

Experts say the result for many has been paying thousands more per year in premiums. For others, securing a flood insurance policy under the new rates will likely become an impossible task.

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region