|By K.C. Myers, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
For nearly a year,
The O'Neills could not rebuild or even obtain money for temporary housing because the insurance claim, held by the
The insurance company had to interpret the state police arson investigation and other factors before finally issuing the decision about two weeks ago.
Unlike other states,
The innocent co-insured law protects a homeowner when another member of the family -- such as a spouse or adult child -- commits arson, Mieth said.
Such a law exists in
In the O'Neill case, the state fire marshal's office declared the fire an arson soon after
The O'Neills continue to believe their daughter would never commit suicide or burn down the large, four-bedroom, custom-built family home,
But the state fire marshal found Shannon responsible, said
In terms of the insurance payout, the key question came down to Shannon's intent.
The insurance company looked at the fire marshal's investigation and Shannon's medical records, Landers said, and it ultimately ruled that although she intentionally set a fire, it was not with the goal of causing property damage or defrauding the insurance company.
"The (FAIR Plan) was a little slow," Landers said. "And it took some prompting, but they did pay out."
"We've just been focused on paying our bills,"
They had been using all their income to rent homes for a few months or weeks at a time. During the summer, they stayed in a donated trailer on their lot until
"We're moving forward, but it's taken a toll," she added.
The O'Neills will receive the building replacement cost of more than
"I can tell you that everyone involved has been sympathetic to the plight of this family," Ball said.
"It's not a happy ending," Landers said, "but a small bit of solace in a tragic story."
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