Family’s insurance claim denied after paying premiums for decades

CHICAGO -- For decades, the Harris Family paid premiums for on an insurance policy that did them no good. But now that it's time to collect, they've been turned down.

73-year-old Clarence Harris has lived in his South Loomis home since 1957. His family started living there as renters until his mother purchased the 3 story building in 1975.

When she died five years ago, the home was handed down to Clarence. He continued to pay the mortgage and the insurance policy, and the appropriate name changes were made with the mortgage company and the Recorder of Deeds Office.

Then a fire in January basically gutted the 3 flat from top to bottom.

When Clarence turned to his homeowners insurance to collect, his daughter Janice says, things got even worse.

“This policy is over 30 years old, there has never been a claim filed, and at a time when you need it, they deny it,” she said.

For about five years, Clarence has been paying for insurance that Allstate Insurance says he never really had.  His mother Ruth insured the building with Allstate in the 80's, and then Clarence kept paying after the house was handed down to him.

“This is part of the family, so I’m making sure that it stays in the family,” Clarence said.

But here’s the thing: although the deed was changed to his name, and the mortgage company was made aware of her death, news of her death never trickled down to Allstate Insurance. The family said they never knew they needed to contact them.

Allstate would not comment on the case but did send the Harris family a letter saying, “if title, use or occupancy of the insured premises changes, Allstate must be notified of such a change.”  It means that because Allstate wasn’t made aware of the change in ownership, Mr. Harris can’t get the funds to make repairs and move back into the home.

Allstate did send him a check after the fire with the premiums he’s paid for the last five years.  Mr. Harris and his daughter returned that check since they plan to fight the decision in court.  For now Mr. Harris is living with his daughters.

UPDATE: Since this story aired, the family has created a GoFundMe page.