In a letter to FEMA, Goldfeder calls on embattled agency to apply pending class-action lawsuit to all potential Sandy engineering report fraud victims, regardless of whether suit was filed. Assemblyman also demands provisions to provide storm victims access to insurance company documents
FEMA currently facing 1,200 fraud claims in New York District Court after 60 Minutes report exposed doctored damage assessments by Write-Your-Own (WYO) insurance company-hired private engineering firms and adjusters
Goldfeder: Our families have been bled dry by Sandy
Rockaway Park, Queens – With over a thousand civil lawsuits pending in federal court following allegedly fraudulent actions by insurance company-contracted engineering firms and adjusters aimed at limiting payouts to Superstorm Sandy victims, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Rockaway Park) wrote a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate calling on the agency to ensure all affected Sandy flood victims are included in the ongoing settlements. The Assemblyman also called on FEMA to make insurance and damage report documents available to policyholders for possible future claims.
“Families in southern Queens and Rockaway have been bled dry trying to recover from Sandy. Many have fallen into debt from the costs of rebuilding or the process of fighting insurance claims,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Having to fight possible fraud on top of everything else is simply unacceptable. The least FEMA can do is ensure that all our families have access to justice if they have been victimized by these fraudulent practices.”
In a letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate, Goldfeder requested the federal agency allow Sandy victims potentially defrauded by falsified engineering reports and other questionable insurance company practices be allowed to join in the settlement currently in New York District Court, regardless of whether or not they were among the initial claims. The Assemblyman also requested the settlement include provisions allowing victims the opportunity to obtain all insurance and engineering report documents. This, Goldfeder wrote, would allow for reopening of FEMA aid claims to review possible fraud or underpayments for damages sustained during the 2012 storm.
Currently, FEMA and its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is in the process of settling 1,200 civil lawsuits filed by Sandy victims pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The suits stem from alleged fraudulent practices by engineering firms and adjusters contracted by Write-Your-Own (WYO) insurance companies that sought to reduce aid payouts to families by doctoring damage reports. The scandal came to national attention following a recent high-profile report on 60 minutes into the insurance companies, which are overseen by FEMA and the NFIP.
Assemblyman Goldfeder has made fighting Sandy insurance company practices a priority since instances of alleged fraud and other policyholder issues first came to light following Sandy. Goldfeder, a member of the Assembly Committee on Insurance, recently introduced legislation to create the New York Flood Insurance Association. The Assemblyman’s plan would create a joint underwriters association requiring insurance providers operating in New York State to follow fair practices and pool earnings from issuing premiums in an effort to hold insurers accountable during major disasters.
“FEMA and the NFIP failed our families when we most needed them most,” concluded Assemblyman Goldfeder. “These small steps can help right the wrong for our devastated communities.”