Hurricane Matthew: 60-Day Extension of the Proof of Loss Deadline
On November 22, 2016, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) announced that it was extending the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) Proof of Loss deadline an additional sixty (60) days for those in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia that experienced flooding from Hurricane Matthew. This means that for those policyholders who have not resolved their flood insurance claim, they only have a total of one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of their loss to submit a Proof of Loss for the total amount of damage that they suffered. Just by way of example, after Hurricane Sandy FEMA extended the Proof of Loss deadline for two (2) years.
A Proof of Loss is a federal form used by the policyholder to support the amount they are claiming under their policy, which must then be signed and sworn to, and submitted with supporting documentation to the flood insurance company. The filing of the Proof of Loss is a prerequisite to receiving a supplemental payment. It is also a prerequisite to a lawsuit. Failure to timely file the Proof of Loss with supporting documentation will preclude the policyholder from receiving any additional payments. The deadline to file a Proof of Loss under an NFIP flood policy is typically 60 days, however due to the catastrophic nature of Hurricane Matthew, FEMA has extended the deadline.
While any extension is good for policyholders, a sixty (60) day extension is hardly that helpful. Currently, there are hundreds of Matthew victims that have not even received an initial payment from their flood insurance company. This means that policyholders will not have the time to evaluate whether they should be filing their own Proof of Loss (i.e. not a Proof of Loss created by the insurance adjuster; rather a Proof of Loss drafted by the policyholder (or their lawyer or public adjuster) and signed by the policyholder that will include all of the damages). If you are a victim of flooding from Matthew and have not received payment or have received a payment that is less than the damage you suffered, it is imperative that you contact a professional immediately.
About the Author: Christopher W. Gerold is an attorney in Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi’s (“CSG”) Disaster Recovery Claims Group. Chris represents homeowners, condominium associations and businesses with their insurance claims with a special focus on flood insurance. For more information on flood insurance and ways CSG can help you with your flood insurance claim, please contact Chris at (973) 530-2061.