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Court says insurer can avoid contractual obligation because victim's "proof of loss" not sworn.

Johny Salmo was forced to sue his homeowners' insurance company, Memberselect, when it delayed payment on his claim.  Although the opinion authored by Kirsten Kelly and others is not clear, it appears that Salmo initially filed a proof of loss with the company but had not signed it under oath.  When he later submitted a sworn proof of loss, the company rejected it.

In the meantime, the company told Salmo it "had enough information to evaluate his claim" and paid for his occupancy in a temporary dwelling.  Ultimately, however, the insurer simply raised the obligation to file the sworn proof of loss within 60 days as a complete defense to its claim and stopped any further payment under the insurance contract.  Salmo sued.  The Court held that even though the insurer had enough information to evaluate Salmo's loss--and admitted such, and even though it continued to pay his expenses initially, it had not waived its right to a sworn POL and therefore could completely stop payment of the claim.  So, the lack of a signature on the form--even in the context of the insured understanding that the insurer no longer needed it--was enough to wipe out the insurer's paid obligation.

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