N.J. congressman pushes to cap profits insurers reap on flood claims

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone says it’s shameful private insurance companies have profited from Superstorm Sandy while failing to meet their obligations to homeowners.

Pallone has proposed a 10-percent cap on profits insurance companies can make off the National Flood Insurance Program.

“These companies were making like 30, 40 percent profits. Meanwhile, anything that they have to pay out over and above the premiums were paid for by the federal government,” said Pallone, a Democrat. “So what kind of a sweetheart deal is that?”

George Kasimos, the founder of Stop FEMA Now, said Pallone’s proposal doesn’t address the major concerns of Sandy victims.

“It’s not even the top-five issue we have with FEMA. We’re waiting four years for flood insurance that we paid that is governed by the federal government and FEMA and they’ve been fraudulent for four years,” said Kasimos. “People have not been able to rebuild their homes.”

Gert Sofman’s snacks and spices store in Highlands was destroyed by Sandy’s floodwaters four years ago, and it remains closed as she waits for FEMA to review her flood insurance claim.

“I am set back so many years because of what they have done to me,” Sofman said. “There’s nothing to keep them on the up and up. They shouldn’t be making profits hand over fist when they’re denying claims for no reason.”

Highlands councilwoman Claudette D’Arrigo said Sandy victims need a quick FEMA decision on flood-zone maps so residents know exactly how high to elevate their homes.

“Until the future map is adopted, a lot of us are built ‘illegally,’ and so we’re getting very high flood-insurance renewables. And the second thing is we need to redo the entire the flood insurance plan,” she said. “It’s not working.”

Pallone said he wants to push FEMA to do better in future storms by providing more information to residents at disaster centers and dealing with engineers who prepare reports that determine flood claims.

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