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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — An insurance deadline that could limit the options for thousands of Hurricane Sandy victims is quickly approaching and that deadline could bring a flood of lawsuits.
All that is left of Rena Bonne’s Long Beach home is a tiny converted garage. Her house was bulldozed after Sandy and she is still trying to rebuild.
“The most frustrating experience of my life. The insurance companies have made it almost impossible,” she told CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff.
After navigating a maze of paperwork flood insurance paid Bonne only a fraction of her $250,000 policy.
“It’s laughable, $53,000 to demolish and rebuild a house,” she said.
Bonne is not alone. Homeowners across Long Island’s south shore say they have been shortchanged by federal flood insurance.
“They wanna give you the least possible and go on their merry life. Meanwhile they’re sleeping in their own beds and I’m not. I’m living in a trailer,” Long Beach resident Anna Damaro said.
Now, a deadline is looming. Many Sandy victims have been negotiating for more coverage but now realize that they have the right to sue their insurance carrier but the time to file a lawsuit is running out.
“After one year you can’t sue them. So, what they 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,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D) New York, said.
Senator Schumer has appealed to FEMA to extend the national deadline to sue to 18 months or more after a claim is first denied.
Bonne got her denial letter in January. For her and others the clock is ticking and many may need more time.
“Sandy itself was unprecedented, resulting in catastrophic and widespread loss that resulted in extensive property loss that takes time to fully document,” Touro Law Center Disaster Relief Clinic Director, Ben Rajotte explained.
“We are certainly not encouraging anyone to sue but we want to preserve their rights to if they have to,” Public Insurance Adjuster, David Charles explained.
Sixty-thousand New Yorkers have filed federal flood insurance claims. An estimated 20,000 of them are approaching the one year deadline to lawyer-up and sue.
FEMA has already extended the deadline to file a claim until the end of April. They had no comment on Tuesday regarding the deadline to sue.
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