NEW BILL WOULD HOLD INSURERS ACCOUNTABLE TO NJ STANDARDS
Senator Jennifer Beck has introduced legislation that clarifies the Department of Banking Insurance’s jurisdiction over the processing of certain flood insurance claims. The bill specifies that though flood insurance is administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) the actual claims process must adhere to New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) laws and regulations. In most cases in New Jersey, the NFIP flood insurance itself is purchased from New Jersey-based private insurance companies who participate in FEMA’s “Write Your Own” program. Additionally, those same New Jersey-based insurers are often administering the claims.
“In the wake of Sandy, we have been deluged with complaints about unresponsive and misleading flood insurance representatives” Beck explained. “While the NFIP is a federal program, I want to clarify that licensed New Jersey flood insurance companies must still comply with our consumer protection laws when processing our residents’ flood claims. This is the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance jurisdiction and they must be able to protect our residents from bad actors.”
Senate Bill 2505 extends DOBI’s current authority to investigate and punish insurers who engage in unfair methods of competition or unfair and deceptive acts. The bill applies to specifically to New Jersey licensed insurers that process flood insurance claims under FEMA’s “Write Your Own” flood insurance program.
“Thousands of NJ residents have lost their homes and belongings and rebuilding cannot be stalled by flood insurers dragging their feet on legitimate claims. Our residents are desperate to move forward with recovery efforts and time after time I am hearing that flood insurers are the obstacle,” said Beck. “This legislation gives New Jersey’s DOBI enforcement power over the flood claims process in this State. Once passed, DOBI’s Division of Insurance will enforce all New Jersey law, regulations and policies and have the legal authority to protect our residents from insurers that are non-complaint.”