N.J. Congressional Delegation Expresses Concern Over NFIP Claims

February 15, 2013

On Tuesday Feb. 12, New Jersey’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate, expressing their concern over what the delegation described as “the backlog of claims” in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Frank Lautenerg (D-N.J.) as well as by New Jersey Congressmen Jon Runyan (R-N.J. 3rd District), Scott Garrett (R-N.J. 5th District), Frank LoBiondo(R-N.J. 2nd District), Chris Smith (R-N.J. 4th District), Frank Pallone (D-N.J. 6th District), Albio Sires (D-N.J. 8th District), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J. 9th District), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J. 11th District) and Rush Holt (D-N.J. 12th District).

The lawmakers said it has been more than three months since Hurricane Sandy made landfall in South Jersey and residents are still trying to start rebuilding. The NFIP was founded in 1968 to help property owners obtain insurance for flooding.

The lawmakers said that according to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office, despite the NFIP having a significantly smaller amount of claims than private flood insurers, only 30 percent of NFIP claims have been resolved as of Feb. 5.

The full letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate is as follows:

Dear Administrator Fugate,

We write you today to express our growing concern with the length of time it is taking to process National Flood Insurance policy claims in New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie recently brought to our attention some rather disturbing statistics related to the backlog of claims. According to the Governor, as of February 5, more than 85 percent of Hurricane Sandy related private homeowners’ insurance claims have been closed while only 30 percent of Sandy related National Flood Insurance claims have been closed.

New Jerseyans have suffered tremendous hardships since Hurricane Sandy struck last fall. We must do everything we can to respond to them as quickly as possible, but right now the National Flood Insurance Program is failing our constituents. It’s been over three months since Hurricane Sandy tore through our state and yet 70 percent of those who filed claims with the NFIP continue to wait. This is unacceptable. According to the Governor’s office this backlog exists despite the fact there were 241,000 fewer national flood insurance claims than private homeowners insurance claims.

We understand that after a natural disaster the size and scope of Sandy there might be a backlog, but these statistics are alarming. These unacceptable backlogs must be addressed quickly so that our constituents can rebuild their homes. In order to ensure that this problem is addressed in a timely manner we ask that you please provide us a detailed description of how you plan to address the backlog of claims.

We thank you for your time and look forward to your response.

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