Proof of Loss filings are challenging when it comes to National Flood Insurance claims. Superstorm Sandy flood claimants, public adjusters, and other attorneys have asked me numerous questions about filing flood proofs of loss. The questions generally ask how to complete flood proofs of loss, when is the deadline, where do proofs loss get filed, how much information needs to be submitted, and whether a proof of loss has to be filed. While our law firm has attempted to answer many of these questions in previous posts, (see Proofs of Loss and the Standard Flood Policy, Proof of Loss Issues in New Jersey, Six-Month Warning on Hurricane Sandy Claims!, File Flood Proofs of Loss, Proof of Loss Pointers and Practical Observations, and Two Month Warning on Sandy Flood Claims), I was forwarded an insurance checklist regarding National Flood Insurance Proof of Loss Tips by the Touro Law School which provides an excellent reference for this topic.
The most important warning from the Touro Proof of Loss Tips was the following:
Tactically, it would be better to submit proof of loss as best you can and defend it later if necessary, than to submit proof of loss more than one year after the date of loss. Whether or not the proof of loss is compliant can be a fact issue for the judge. But from our research, missing FEMA’s deadline will be fatal.
Rule One is to file on time. The National flood proof of loss should be “received” by the flood insurance carrier – not the adjuster – by the one year deadline. Touro indicated that this date could be as early as October 26, 2013. So, you have to send it before that time to meet the time deadline for receipt. The time of a proof being sent is different than the time being “received.” We send Flood Proofs with a “proof of delivery” because there are instances of claims people claiming the proof of loss and materials were received after the deadline.
Rule Two is to fill out the form(s) completely and with adequate backup. Use a Federal OMB approved form, fill in the blanks and provide backup documentation with estimates, invoices, photographs, and anything which will substantiate the amount claimed.
Rule Three–Read the attached checklist. It will prevent all kinds of technical problems and addresses the topic in more detail. The publication is a great public service.