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Declaratory judgment actions taken after suspicious accident

When people own items that are precious or valuable, they tend to insure them. If something happens to an object so that it is lost, damaged or rendered useless, the owner can file a claim to be reimbursed up to the value of the insurance policy. Of course, there are often stipulations and limitations. For example, if someone in New York is suspected of setting fire to his own house, insurance companies may file declaratory judgment actions for the court to determine whether the homeowner has nullified his policy through his actions.

One insurance company in another state is taking such steps against a man who has an $85,000 policy on his fishing boat. The man described to authorities how the boat suddenly took on water and sank while he and his mother were deep sea fishing one afternoon. The man was rescued some days later, but his mother's body was never found and the boat never recovered.

The man's aunts, sisters of his deceased mother, believe he intentionally sank his boat to dispose of his mother in order to claim her inheritance. The inheritance came about after the murder of the man's grandfather, which the aunts believe also was committed by their nephew. The man has not yet been charged in either suspicious death. Nevertheless, investigators have done interviews and research into the man's insurance claim.

Some of the investigative findings suggest that the boat was not seaworthy due to alterations and inadequate repairs. This prompted the insurance company to cancel the policy and request declaratory judgment actions from the court. Additionally, the strong suspicion that the boat sank during the commission of a criminal act may render the policy void. In similar matters as complex as this, insurance companies in New York rely on legal guidance from experienced attorneys.

Source: courant.com, "Insurance Company Employees In Nathan Carman Case Concerned About Safety", Dave Altimari, Aug. 3, 2017

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