Deadline for homeowners to sue insurance companies looms as Sandy anniversary approaches

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LONG BEACH, Long Island (PIX11) –  Rena Bonne’s home is gone, destroyed by Sandy.

All that remains is an empty plot of land but she continues to check her mail where her single floor ranch once stood.

“I’m not out of steam because the stakes are too high but we’re all drained emotionally and physically,” Bonne said.

Nearly one year after Sandy, the fight against insurance companies persist.

Bonne and thousands of others say they’ve been underpaid despite flood coverage insuring her up to $240 to $250,000.

As of January, Bonne received only $58,000 and then told her file was closed.

William Walters from Babylon has a similar story.

He’s spent $240,000 with the help of SBA loans and yet he’s only received $30,000 to raise his home and only another $36,000 to rebuild.

“It s a tiresome fight, I spent many hours on the phone every single day with different people just trying to straighten things out,” Walters told PIX11.

One FEMA deadline showing proof of loss was already extended to the end of April 2014.

But now, another deadline looms for homeowners like Walters and Bonne.

If they want to sue their insurance companies for MORE money, the statute of limitations is runs out exactly one year from the date of their initial denial.

For Bonne, that date is in less than three months.

Senator Chuck Schumer is now stepping in and pushing FEMA to extend that time frame.

“What the insurance company does is stretch it out and once they know you can’t sue them, they’re home free and the poor homeowner is stuck. plain and simple,” Schumer said.

To help homeowners work through just some of this red tape, Touro College established a disaster relief clinic just three days after Sandy.

Ben Rajotte, the program’s director, says legislation isn’t even needed to help Sandy victims in this predicament but rather a change in protocol.

“I think there are a number of people who are not sure of what to do including whether they can continue to pursue the claim,” he said. “There are two different deadlines and really there should be one.”

FEMA can make the change administratively and said they’re thinking about it.