7 On Your Side helps solve FEMA flood insurance mix-up for New Jersey homeowner

Nina Pineda Image
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Homeowner caught up in flood insurance mix-up
7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda helps one homeowner after his flood insurance claim was mistakenly denied.

ROSELLE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Flooding is a constant and costly worry for property owners and renters all around our area.

One homeowner's house ended up underwater in a bad storm before last Christmas - but then he was drowning in damage repairs when his flood insurance policy somehow vanished.

Most standard homeowners' insurance policies do not cover flood damage, which is why it's crucial for homeowners in flood hazard zones to get coverage.

If you live in what is deemed a flood hazard zone, the federal government provides grants to cover flood insurance to protect property owners, renters and businesses through its national flood insurance program.

A New Jersey homeowner was told FEMA covered his home after Hurricane Ida because his Union County house was in a flood hazard zone.

But then when a monster Nor'easter caused flooding just days before Christmas, FEMA reversed course and said he wasn't insured.

The major flooding across four states dumped three feet of water in Tywan Mata's newly built home in Roselle, New Jersey.

Mata quickly filed a damage claim, hoping to get ahead of the mold and mildew in the drywall of his basement which filled with water. He was relieved because two years ago, FEMA declared his home was in a special flood hazard area and eligible for a three-year group flood insurance policy.

After the December storm, he submitted a claim for damage, cleanup and repairs but Mata was shocked when his claim was denied, apparently because he wasn't in a flood zone.

"I felt like my house had fell on top of me," Mata said.

Now he is in a race against time, watching his investment rot from the rain. The social worker, who is launching a brand new caregiving business, couldn't afford the repairs.

He said his calls to FEMA to explain the flip-flop on flood coverage went nowhere -- so he called 7 On Your Side. We contacted FEMA and asked them to take another look at the flood zone mapping.

After two weeks of meetings, the federal agency apologized, admitted its mistake and reinstated his flood insurance policy -- and even cut him a check for that damage claim.

FEMA cut him a check for almost $6,000 and will review another damage claim for more.

"Mr. Mata's case has had a dedicated team working towards a positive resolution since the issues were brought to our attention, and they will continue to work directly with him until the issues are completely resolved," FEMA said in a statement. "Although Mr. Mata's experience was a unique one, FEMA is closely examining the need to implement safeguards to prevent similar occurrences from happening again."

For more information on flood insurance, you can visit FEMA's website.

ALSO READ | 7 On Your Side helps parolee after check deposit caused bank to freeze account

Nina Pineda has tips on how to prevent your bank accounts from being frozen.



Do you have an issue with a company that you haven't been able to resolve? If so, 7 On Your Side wants to help you!

Fill out the form below or email your questions, issues, or story ideas by filling out the form below or by emailing 7OnYourSideNina@abc.com. All emails MUST INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND CELLPHONE NUMBER. Without a phone number, 7 On Your Side will not be able to respond.