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Week delay precludes homeowner from any recovery for home destroyed by fire

Dominique Nelson sued American Fellowhip Mutual Insurance, her homeowners insurer, after her home was destroyed by fire in February of 2007.  She notified her insurer of the fire five days after it occurred. She negotiated with the carrier for a number of months before it denied her claim in its entirety on October 4.  The insurer claimed that Nelson had misrepresented the contents of the home destroyed in the fire, thus wiping out her coverage entirely.  Nelson was slow in making her way to court and didn't file a lawsuit until October 6 of the following year. The Court dismissed her claim as untimely.

On appeal, the Appellate panel pointed to the requirement in the policy that suit be filed within one calendar year of the loss.  Although this time limitation was "tolled" or extended while the claim was being considered prior to denial, the tolling period did not include the five days prior to giving the insurer notice. Thus, Nelson was 7 days late in filing her lawsuit and lost the right to collect the insurance proceeds she had purchased.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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