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Louisiana asks FEMA to extend flood loss deadline

<p>At the Dicharry home in Gonzales, a sand bag setup to try to protect a generator was not adequate for the historic flooding. (Photo: Bill Feig / The Advocate)</p>

Louisiana’s insurance commissioner has sent a letter to FEMA asking for a 90-day extension to the Feb. 9 deadline for victims of the massive August floods to file their proof-of-loss forms.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon asked for a total of 270 days before flood victims have to turn in their initial and supplemental forms to prove they fixed their flood damage. Donelon argued the current deadline, set to expire next week, is too soon for the 30,000 policyholders who have filed claims and are still trying to rebuild.

The current deadline is particularly onerous for those who must file a supplemental proof-of-loss form to be able to cover the difference between the depreciated value of their damaged property and the actual replacement costs of fixing or rebuilding it. Insurance companies often withhold those payments until they get receipts proving repairs have been done.

Under the federally funded flood insurance program, flood victims are normally given just 60 days after a flooding event to file proof of their losses, including supplemental proof-of-loss forms. But in major events like the one that inundated large swaths of south Louisiana starting on Aug. 12, 2016, the state can file for extensions and is usually granted them by FEMA, which oversees the National Flood Insurance Program.

August flood victims have already received two 60-day extensions, and next week marks 180 days since the flooding began. If FEMA agrees to Donelon’s request for a 270-day filing period, the deadline would be pushed back to May 9, 2017.

After Hurricane Isaac in 2012, flood victims in the New Orleans area were given 240 days to file their final proof of losses. After Hurricane Gustav in 2008, they were granted 330 days.