La. policyholders urge insurance commissioner to request Proof of Loss extension

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana policyholders urge Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon to request an extension for insured homeowners impacted by the historic flooding that occurred in August, 2016. With just a few days leading up to the May 10 Proof of Loss deadline, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has yet to receive a request for an extension from the Commissioner’s office. Should a simple request for an extension not be received by FEMA, tens of thousands of flooded Louisiana homeowners could be denied future insurance proceeds relating to their August 2016 flood damage.

On February 3, 2017, FEMA Assistant Administrator David Maurstad issued WYO Bulletin W-17002, granting an additional 90-day extension for Louisiana policyholders to submit a complete, signed, and sworn Proof of Loss for their flood insurance claims caused by the historic, 1,000 year August flood.

With this third extension, Louisiana policyholders have had a total of 270 days after their respective date of loss to provide the Proof of Loss form to their insurer. However, even after these extensions, policyholders have found it exceedingly difficult to meet this deadline. Further, the vast majority of insured homeowners are unaware that this flood-insurance-only deadline even exists or what the punitive nature of the deadline really is. 

Jim Donelon expressed concern with the “anti-policyholder” 270-day Proof of Loss requirement during a recent local panel discussion, which he has also definitively stated to FEMA on multiple prior occasions, stating, “The Baton Rouge and Lafayette flood have now been extended to a total of 270 days. But even with that, of my 225 employees at the Department of Insurance, a quarter of them had water in their homes as a result of the floods last year,” Donelon said. “One of my deputies is on his third contract, and needless to say, has had to file supplemental Proof of Loss forms in order to keep his right to be fully compensated for his loss.”

Victims of Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall on the East Coast in October, 2016, only received 180 days for homeowners to file Proof Of Loss forms. Crucially, however, the Insurance Commissioner of Florida, where a substantial amount of flood damage occurred, failed to demand a Proof of Loss extension from FEMA. According to FEMA representatives, while FEMA is not regulated by state commissioners, it takes their “boots on the ground” recommendations into strong consideration when deciding whether to grant a Proof of Loss extension.

Residents who need to file a supplemental Proof of Loss form are urged to contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance to request the extension of the Proof of Loss deadline: 225-342-5900.

Contributed Report