Homeowners' claim rejected when cleaning complications are deemed a new claim requiring notice
Jeff and Cindy Brittingham purchased homeowners' coverage with Michigan Insurance Company. They suffered a flooding loss on July 8, 2008. The employed a company named ServPro to clean their ducts work and on Jluy 24, it sprayed an anti-microbial that caused the family to suffer illness. They were forced to leave the home for a period and made a claim against their insurer. While it was undisputed that the insurer was on notice of the claim, it argued that a new notice was required with regard to spraying the antimicrobial.
The Court ultimately agreed and held that since more than one year passed before the family sent a written notice regarding their intent to claim damages relating to vacating the home during the anti-microbial treatment, they could not collect for those damages.
The pertinent Michigan statute requires home insurers to include a policy provision that "tolls" (or extends) the statute of limitation from the date of notice until a claim is formally denied, and the Michigan Insurance Company policy did not include this provision. The Court then incoporated the statutory language into the policy, however, since it deemed that a notice of the "new" claim had never been given in writing, it held that the tolling period did not apply and the claim was filed too late.