Flood insurance is a relief if you have suffered water damage. However, this does not guarantee that your problems are over as your claim could be underpaid or rejected.
Once you’ve read your policy carefully and you think your claim should be covered, it’s worth filing an objection.
If you have one National flood insurance program you can appeal a rejection with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the NFIP. If you have private flood insurance, contact the insurer directly.
Here’s how to file a FEMA appeal and more information on why your claim might be denied.
Appeal a denied NFIP claim
If your flood claim is denied, you will receive a notification from the insurer managing your NFIP policy. FEMA encourages policyholders to first discuss disputes with their insurer. During the appeal process, keep detailed records of every call to your insurer, including the name and salutation of everyone you talked to, what you talked about, and the date and time of each conversation.
You must submit your objection within 60 days of the date of the insurer’s written rejection.
Step 1: Contact your adjuster
This person should be able to clarify why your application was rejected or how the settlement amount was determined.
Step 2: Contact the appraiser’s manager
If your reviewer cannot provide answers or the answers are unsatisfactory, ask for their manager’s contact information. If possible, state your questions and concerns in writing.
Step 3: Contact your insurer’s claims officer
If the supervisor is not helpful, contact your insurer’s claims officer. Rephrase your questions and explain the steps you have already taken. Your agent may be able to help you.
Step 4: If steps 1-3 DO NOT SOLVE the problem, contact FEMA
If you are the person named in the policy, you can send a letter to FEMA about the issue. If this is not the case, the policyholder or a legal representative should send the letter to the following address:
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration Federal Insurance Administrator 1800 South Bell Street Arlington, VA 20598-3010
The letter should contain:
The NFIP policy number, which you can find on the declaration page of the policy
The address of the flooded property
The best way for FEMA to contact you
A detailed description of your questions and concerns
Names and contact information of everyone with whom you have spoken about these concerns prior to contacting FEMA
Documents to support your objection, e.g. B. a copy of the written damage rejection, a copy of the proof of damage and photos confirming the damage
What to expect after your appeal
First, FEMA confirms in writing that it has received your complaint. Next, it will request the claim file from your insurer. More information may also be requested or a re-examination of your property may be required. Requests for more information are likely to have 14 days in advance.
FEMA should submit a written appeal decision within 90 days of receiving all required information.
If it approves the appeal, FEMA will notify both you and your insurer and recommend action to the insurer. If not, FEMA will explain the reasons in detail.
If the appeal raises new questions or reveals documents that you did not provide to your insurer before they rejected the claim, FEMA may ask you to submit this information directly to the insurance company for additional payment.
Reasons for Rejecting Your Claim
In some cases, your insurer may have a legitimate reason to deny your claim – and in which case it may not be worth seeking an appeal.
You are within the 30-day waiting period: If you Take out last-minute flood insurance and flood damage before the waiting period has expired, the insurance will not help you.
You missed the deadline for submitting the proof of loss: You have 60 days from the time of the damage to apply for flood insurance. Wait longer even if you are evicted and your claim could be denied. Sometimes this deadline is lifted after a major disaster, but not always.
There were earth movements: Damage caused by earth movements is excluded from the payment of a flood insurance, even if the earth has moved due to the flood. If your insurer denies your claim based on this exclusion, you should hire a licensed professional engineer to determine the exact cause of the damage. Make sure the engineer has experience with flood damage. If he or she determines that the damage was caused by hydrostatic pressure, which is normally covered, rather than earth movement, submit the results in your complaint.
You had previous damage: If water damage is confined to your home, was preventable – like a slow water leak – or occurred before you were insured, it is generally excluded from NFIP flood insurance policies.
You have a cellar damage that is not insured: NFIP guidelines provide some coverage for basement areas, but it is limited and often does not include the contents of a finished basement or basement improvements.