The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has launched the interim office of the Flood Insurance Advocate.
The interim office will be led by Acting Flood Insurance Advocate David Stearrett beginning Dec. 22. Stearrett most recently served as chief of Floodplain Management Branch of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at FEMA.
FEMA said the interim office will assist citizens and policyholders on NFIP issues, as well as develop a long-term regional mapping outreach and education strategy. The acting advocate and staff will assist the public to navigate through the NFIP processes.
The interim office will operate until the federal agency can meet its Congressional mandate to create a permanent Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate as required by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. A number of FEMA employees will be assigned to the interim office until funding becomes available to establish the permanent office, FEMA said.
The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate will be an independent office within FEMA and have direct access on an advisory basis to the FEMA administrator.
FEMA said it spent several months developing options to implement this new provision, and met with advocate and ombudsman offices at other federal agencies and identified areas of greatest policyholder and property owner needs.
The public can reach the interim office by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next month, the office will also establish a phone number to receive inquiries from the public. FEMA said it recommends that policyholders continue to also work with their insurance agents to resolve any questions or concerns that they have related to flood insurance, or contact NFIP at 1-888-379-9531.
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