NEWS

FEMA Announces Launch of the Interim Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate

Dec 18, 2014 | News & Views

MEMORANDUM FOR: Write Your Own (WYO) Principal Coordinators and
the

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Servicing Agent

FROM: Dennis Kuhns
Division Director

Risk Insurance Division

SUBJECT: FEMA Announces Launch of the Interim Office of the Flood
Insurance Advocate

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency
Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate announced Dec. 18 the launch of the
Interim Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate, led by the Acting Flood
Insurance Advocate, David Stearrett.

The Interim Flood Insurance Advocate office will stand up
effective Dec. 22, 2014.

The Interim Office will begin work on specialized assistance to
citizens and policyholders on National Flood Insurance Program issues, as well
as regional mapping outreach and education support. The Interim Office will
operate until a permanent Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate is established
pursuant to Section 24 of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of
2014 (subject to budget resources). To best carry out its mission, duties, and
responsibilities, the Interim Office will be an independent office within FEMA
with direct alignment to the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration associate
administrator and the FEMA administrator.

Until funding is available to establish the permanent office, a
number of FEMA employees will be detailed to the Interim Office. FEMA spent
several months developing options to implement this new provision, and met with
a number of advocate and ombudsman offices at other federal agencies and
identified areas of greatest policyholder- and property owner needs. These
findings were leveraged to build the interim office.

FEMA is designating an Acting Flood Insurance Advocate and an
interim Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate as part of its commitment to
immediately begin providing assistance to homeowners and policyholders. At
launch, the acting advocate and staff will focus on assisting the public as
they navigate through the NFIP processes by leveraging FEMA resources to
address specific public inquiries or concerns. The acting advocate will also
develop a long-term regional mapping outreach and education strategy to
maximize support to the public. The Interim Flood Insurance Advocate office
will operate with existing resources, and further expansion is subject to future
funding, as FEMA is operating under a Continuing Resolution.

The flood insurance advocate will be an independent office within
FEMA and have direct access on an advisory basis to the FEMA administrator. As
funds become available, FEMA plans to designate a permanent flood insurance advocate
and staff. Initially, the public can reach the advocate by email at advocate@fema.dhs.gov.
In the next month, the advocate will establish a phone number to receive
inquiries from the public. As with normal NFIP and FEMA business, FEMA
recommends policyholders continue to also work with their insurance agents to
resolve any questions or concerns that they have related to flood insurance or contact
FloodSmart at (888) 379-9531. FEMA recommends that congressional offices
continue to coordinate inquiries or concerns through the FEMA Office of
Congressional Affairs.

The NFIP is a federal program created by
Congress to mitigate future flood losses nationwide through sound,
community-enforced building and zoning ordinances and to provide access to affordable,
federally backed flood insurance protection for property owners. The NFIP is
designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the
escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by
floods. Thank you for your support and partnership as we stand up the Interim
Office.

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