44 CFR 62.20 - Claims appeals.
Appeal decision means the disposition of the appeal by the Federal Insurance Administrator.
Decision means the insurer's final claim determination, which is the insurer's written denial, in whole or in part, of the insured's claim.
(b) Appeal. A National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholder, whether insured by a participating Write-Your-Own (WYO) Company or directly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), may appeal a decision, including a determination of any insurance agent, adjuster, insurance company, or any FEMA employee or contractor with respect to a claim, proof of loss, and loss estimate. In order to file an appeal, the insured must comply with all requirements set out in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP). This appeals process is available after the issuance of the insurer's final claim determination, which is the insurer's written denial, in whole or in part, of the insured's claim. Once the final claim determination is issued, an insured may appeal any action taken by the insurer, FEMA employee, FEMA contractor, insurance adjuster, or insurance agent.
(c) Limitations on Appeals. The appeals process is intended to resolve claim issues and is not intended to grant coverage or limits that are not provided by the SFIP. Filing an appeal does not waive any of the requirements for perfecting a claim under the SFIP or extend any of the time limitations set forth in the SFIP.
(1) Disputes that are or have been subject to appraisal as provided for in the SFIP cannot be appealed under this section.
(2) When a policyholder files an appeal on any issue, that issue is no longer subject to resolution by appraisal or other pre-litigation remedies.
(d) Litigation preclusion. An insured who files suit against an insurer on the flood insurance claim issue is prohibited from filing an appeal under this section. All appeals submitted for decision but not yet resolved shall be terminated upon notice of the commencement of litigation regarding the claim.
(e) Procedures. To pursue an appeal under this section a policyholder must:
(1) Submit a written appeal to FEMA within 60 days from the date of the decision. The appeal should be sent to: DHS/FEMA, Mitigation Directorate, Federal Insurance Administrator, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA 20598-MS3010;
(2) Provide a copy of the insurer's written denial, in whole or in part, of the claim;
(3) Identify relevant policy and claim information and state the basis for the appeal; and
(4) Submit relevant documentation to support the appeal. The policyholder should submit only the documentation that pertains to his or her claim. The following are examples of the kinds of documentation which FEMA will require to adjudicate the appeal: A copy of the proof of loss submitted to the insurer as required in the policy; room by room itemized estimates from the adjuster (includes contractors' estimates), detailing unit cost and quantities for the items needing repair or replacement; replacement cost proofs of loss; Preliminary Report; Final Report; detailed damaged personal property inventories that include the approximate age of the items; completed Mobile Home Worksheet; Mobile Home Title, including Salvage Titles; real estate appraisals that exclude land values; advance payment information; clear photographs (exterior and interior) confirming damage resulted from direct physical loss by or from flood; proof of prior repair; evidence of insurance and policy information , i.e. declarations page; Elevation Certificate, if the risk is an elevated building; the community's determination made concerning substantial damage; information regarding substantial improvement; zone determinations; pre-loss and post-loss inventories; financial statements; tax records, lease agreements, sales contracts, settlement papers, deed, etc.; emergency (911) address change information; salvage information (proceeds and sales); condominium association by-laws; proof of other insurance, including homeowners or wind policies and any claim information submitted to the other companies; Waiver, Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) or Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) information; paid receipts and invoices including cancelled checks that support an insured's out-of-pocket expenses pertaining to the claim; underwriting decisions; architectural plans and drawings; death certificates; a copy of the will; divorce decree, power of attorney; current lienholder information; current loss payee information; paid receipts and invoices documenting damaged stock; detailed engineering reports specifically addressing flood-related damage and pre-existing damage; engineering surveys; market values; documentation of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) dates; documentation reflecting date(s) of construction and substantial improvement; loan documents including closings; evidence of insurability as a Residential Condominium Association; Franchise Agreements; letters of representation, i.e. attorneys and public adjusters; any assignment of interest in a claim; and, any other pertinent information which FEMA may request in processing a claim.
(f) Appeal resolution.
(1) FEMA will acknowledge, in writing, receipt of a policyholder's appeal and include in the acknowledgement contact information for a FEMA point of contact who can advise the policyholder as to the status of his or her claim.
(2) The Federal Insurance Administrator will review the appeal documents and may notify the policyholder in writing of the need for additional information. A request for the additional information will include the date by which the information must be provided, and shall in no case be less than 14 calendar days. Failure to provide the requested information in full, or to request an extension by the due date, may result in a dismissal of the appeal. A re-inspection of the policyholder's property may be conducted at the discretion of the Federal Insurance Administrator to gather more information. The Federal Insurance Administrator will ensure that all information necessary to rule on the appeal has been provided prior to making an appeal decision.
(3) The Federal Insurance Administrator will review the appeal documents, including any reinspection report, if appropriate. The Federal Insurance Administrator will provide specific information on what grounds the claim was denied initially. The Federal Insurance Administrator will provide an appeal decision in writing to the policyholder and insurer within 90 days from the date that all information has been submitted by the policyholder and include specific information for the resolution of the appeal. No further administrative review will be provided to the insured.
(4) A policyholder who does not agree with FEMA's appeal decision should refer to the SFIP, for options for further action (see Part 61, App. A(1) VII.R., Part 61, App. A(2) VII.R., and Part 61, App. A(3) VIII.R.). The one-year period to file suit commences with the written denial from the insurer and is not extended by the appeals process.