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FEMA Faces Challenges in Verifying Applicants' Insurance Policies for the Individuals and Households Program

Executive Summary

FEMA spent more than $1.4 billion under the Individuals and Households Program on more than 182,900 applicants with losses related to Hurricane Sandy, as of April 2015. We reviewed FEMA’s process for verifying applicants’ insurance policies at the time of registration for this program. Before authorizing Individuals and Households Program payments, FEMA does not verify the accuracy of applicants’ “no insurance coverage” self-certifications. This condition exists because a reliable and comprehensive database does not exist for FEMA to verify the status of applicants’ insurance coverage. Consequently, FEMA relies on self-certification and legal statements on the application to ensure accuracy of applicants’ “no insurance coverage” information. FEMA is thereby exposing Federal disaster assistance funds to possible duplicate, improper, or fraudulent payments. We determined that FEMA paid approximately $250 million in homeowners’ assistance to more than 29,000 Hurricane Sandy applicants who may have had private insurance.

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