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The insured filed a claim for benefits under her insurance policy after her home was destroyed by a fire.  The insured alleged that the insurer did not provide her with appropriate temporary housing or shelter, as per her insurance agreement, for a period of 309 days.  The insurer ultimately denied the insured’s claims ten months after the loss.  The insurer had continued to accept the insured’s premiums after the fire, until her claim was ultimately denied.  The insured obtained counsel and requested a copy of the policy within twelve months of the fire.

The insurer allegedly withheld the documents, however, until after twelve months of the date of loss.  The insured brought the instant action setting forth a declaratory judgment seeking recovery of policy benefits seventeen months after the fire loss.  The insurer then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the insured’s claims are barred by a one-year suit limitation clause in the insurance policy which requires that any suit be filed within one year of the date of loss.

In response to the motion for summary judgment, the insured argued that the insurer waived its right to assert this defense by its conduct and that the insurer’s actions in denying her claim were in bad faith.

The court, however, sided with the insurer.  Because the insurer was under no duty to affirmatively inform the insured of the one-year limitations provision and because the insured had sufficient time to initiate an action prior to the expiration of the limitations period, the court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment.

While the court sympathized with the insured, it determined that even if the insurer acted in bad faith in denying the claim, it would not change the legally required result.

Date of Decision: July 5, 2007.

Davidson v. Brethren Mutual Insurance Company, United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, No. 3:05-1929, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48525 (M.D. Pa. July 5, 2007) (Mannion, J.).