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Hurricane Sandy Flood Insurance Deadline: Only Two Months Remain

Hurricane Sandy Flood Insurance Deadline: Only Two Months Remain
Victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York have until April 28, 2014 to file a Proof of Loss on their flood insurance claim.   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 their flood insurance company.  The filing of the Proof of Loss is a prerequisite to a lawsuit, and failure to timely file the Proof of Loss may also preclude the policyholder from receiving any additional payments even if a lawsuit is unnecessary.
The Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) typically allows homeowners 60 days from the date of loss to file a Proof of Loss. On November 9, 2012 however FEMA extended the filing deadline for Sandy flood claims to one year from the date of loss (October 28, 2013).  On October 1, 2013, FEMA extended the deadline again to April 28, 2014.   The extensions granted by FEMA gave policyholders more time to gather the necessary paperwork, fully document their losses and account for any additional expenses that were discovered after repairs or rebuilding projects began.  The deadline, however, is unlikely to be extended again.
The Proof of Loss deadline is not the only deadline that policyholders face.  According to the SFIP policy, an insured has one year from the date of a denial of all or any part of their claim to initiate a lawsuit seeking additional amounts under their SFIP.  While any amounts claimed and at issue in a lawsuit must be supported by a timely and complete Proof of Loss meeting the requirements of the SFIP, it is FEMA’s position that the extension of the deadline to submit a Proof of Loss does not alter the one year deadline from a denial for initiating a lawsuit.  Further, it is FEMA’s position that the one year statute of limitations period begins from the date of the letter that first denies any part of the claim (an interpretation of the policy that we strongly oppose and has been determined not to apply by certain Federal judges).  Based on this logic, some insured’s statute of limitations may have expired already.
About the Author: Christopher W. Gerold is an attorney in Wolff & Samson’s Disaster Recovery Claims Group. Chris represents homeowners, condominium associations and businesses with their Sandy related insurance claims with a special focus on flood insurance. For more information on flood insurance and ways Wolff & Samson can help you with your flood insurance claim, please contact Chris at (973) 530-2061.