National Flood Insurance Program Litigation

National Flood Insurance Program Litigation


The National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) differs greatly and essentially from other homeowners’ insurance and property insurance claims. With unique policies and exclusive jurisdiction by the federal court, defense of these matters must be handled by practitioners with equally specialized knowledge and expertise. Kelley Kronenberg’s NFIP Litigation attorneys have extensive experience with and understanding of the National Flood Insurance Act (“NFIA”) and the Standard Flood Insurance Policies (“SFIPs”), with countless successes defending NFIP claims.  

The Economic Impact of Flooding 

Environmental experts believe climate change is accelerating the increasing frequency and intensity of the weather that leads to billion-dollar disasters. According to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, sea level rise is worsening hurricane storm surge flooding, increasing the potential for extremely heavy rainfall in the eastern states.  

As detailed in the United States government’s publication, “Beyond the Data:”  

  • Damages from the 2022 natural disasters totaled $165.1 billion.  
  • The costliest 2022 event was Hurricane Ian ($112.9 billion). 
  • Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 341 weather and climate disasters with damage costs reaching or exceeding $1 billion.  
  • The cumulative cost for these 341 events exceeds $2.475 trillion.  
  • The leading states in total cumulative costs are: 
    • Texas: ~$380 billion 
    • Florida: ~$370 billion 
    • Louisiana: ~$290 billion 

Our NFIP Litigation Team

With an expected increase in flooding, it is imperative to have counsel skilled in NFIP litigation. Kelley Kronenberg’s NFIP Litigation Team has vast experience defending Write Your Own (“WYO”) carriers in federal courts nationwide. Our attorneys specialize in guiding carriers and claims adjusters in the handling and defense of residential and commercial flood and procurement claims, and defending claims brought under the NFIA.   

Our NFIP Litigation Team can boast abundant successes at all stages of litigation, including numerous summary judgment wins and full defense judgments at trial, on defenses including, but not limited to:  

  • Preemption 
  • Improper Procurement  
  • Statute of Limitations  
  • Earth Movement Exclusions  
  • Concurrent Cause 
  • Untimely Reporting  

With fifteen offices, a large presence in the Southeastern and Gulf states, and the capacity to handle flood cases in every state across the country, Kelley Kronenberg’s NFIP Litigation Team is uniquely qualified to handle your flood claims. 

Learn More About the NFIP Here

A Brief History of the NFIP

In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA) was adopted to address private insurers charging unreasonably large premiums for flood insurance. This act established the NFIP, which aimed to provide flood insurance to the public at affordable rates.

Over the years, additional legislation related to the NFIP has been enacted with major changes to the program in 1973, 1994, 2004, 2012, and 2014. Most notably, the 1973 reforms added a requirement to carry flood insurance on loans for properties within high-risk flood areas.

In 2012, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (“Biggert-Waters”) authorized and funded the national mapping program and transitioned the NFIP from subsidized rates to full actuarial rates reflective of actual risk. However, in 2014, due to concerns about rising premiums, Biggert-Waters was partially repealed by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (“HFIAA”), which put limits on certain rate increases and applied an annual surcharge to all policyholders. The HFIAA also mandated that FEMA develop an affordability framework to provide targeted assistance for policyholders. This affordability framework was established by FEMA in 2018.

In May 2021, following the adoption of an updated risk rating system by FEMA, the Insurance Coverage Law Center published an article written by the head of our NFIP Litigation Department, Sean Sullivan, Esquire, wherein he discussed the new system. For more information on the updated risk rating system, read Mr. Sullivan’s article here: “[a] Sea Change in Flood Insurance: FEMA’s Implementation of Risk Rating 2.0“

Understanding the National Flood Insurance Program

In 1968, the NFIA was adopted to address private insurers charging unreasonably large premiums for flood insurance. From this act came the NFIP under which three SFIPs are available: (1) dwellings, (2) contents, and (3) residential condominiums. These policies are separate, single-risk policies that cover “direct physical loss by or from flood.”  

Policies under the NFIP may be issued directly by the NFIP (“NFIP Direct”) or by various property and casualty insurance companies through the NFIP program called “Write Your Own” (“WYO”). The WYO is a network of more than fifty insurance companies that issue flood policies in their own names, collect premiums under segregated accounts, and administer claims. The NFIP is responsible for paying any claims arising from the policy.   

The NFIP is managed by the Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration (“FIMA”), which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA”). 

Limitations Under the National Flood Insurance Program

Coverage Limitations: 

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, the policy limits for a residential property are $250,000.00/$100,000.00. For commercial properties, the policy limits are $500,000.00. Additional or excess coverage may be obtained through a private insurer.  

Statute of Limitations:  

An individual suing to recover money under an SFIP must initiate the lawsuit within one year after the date of the written denial of any part of the claim or the claim in its entirety. This limitations provision applies to any claim brought under the policy and to any dispute arising from the handling of the claim. 

Jurisdictional Limitations:  

Under federal law, the only appropriate court in which to bring an action against a WYO carrier is the federal district court in which the subject property is located. Failure to file in the appropriate court will not toll the status of limitations.