Woman Sues After Insurance Company Denies Fire Claim Because Of Her Dog

| by Jared Keever
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A New York woman, who lost her home to a fire, says her insurance company is refusing to pay her claim because she owns a pit bull and the animal is prohibited under her policy’s guidelines. 

The Huffington Post reports Mary Grace O’Brien lost her East Rockaway home on Long Island in October when her dryer caught fire. Since that time she, and her three children, have been living with a friend. 

O’Brien told WABC News she was devastated when her home burned down, but she was thankful she had a $300,000 insurance policy from Adirondack Insurance that would help her rebuild. 

But now Adirondack won’t pay up because, the company says, it was unaware she owned a pit bull — an animal that O’Brien says had nothing to do with starting the fire. 

“They were looking for a reason not to pay the claim and as luck would have it I have this dog,” O’Brien said. 

She believes the problem started at Sidakis Insurance Agency, the broker that sold her the policy. O’Brien thinks someone at the agency forged her signature on a form that said she didn’t own any pets. 

"They produced this letter with a signature on the bottom," O'Brien is quoted as saying by The Huffington Post. "I had never seen it before and it said I have no pets. I have cats and I have dogs. I would never say that I have no pets. Nobody ever asked me."

One handwriting expert told WABC that the signature did indeed appear to be a forgery.

But Andrew Sidakis denied that anyone at his agency would forge a document.

“There's no reason for anyone in this office to forge signatures. Anna, me, anyone else to forge signature. It doesn't make sense. Misrepresentation has intentional connotation that you're intentionally trying to deceive, that's not our practice,” he said in a conversation with O’Brien that was recorded by a WABC producer.

Now O’Brien is suing both Adirondack and Sidakis to try and recover her losses. 

She said she is disappointed that a decision like this comes down to nothing more than money.

“What about the fact I'm looking down the barrel to lose everything I worked for my whole life?" O'Brien said.

Sources: The Huffington Post, WABC News

Photo Credit: WABC News