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05/08/95 MICHAEL SILVERMAN v. ECONOMY FIRE AND

May 8, 1995

MICHAEL SILVERMAN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ECONOMY FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE WALTER BIESCHKE, JUDGE PRESIDING.

The Honorable Justice Wolfson delivered the opinion of the court: Campbell, P.j. and Braden, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson

JUSTICE WOLFSON delivered the opinion of the court:

Sometimes it's not the words that matter, it's how dark they are. This insurance coverage case turns on our analysis of boldface type.

On February 19, 1984, Economy Fire and Casualty Company (Economy) issued a renewal of an automobile liability insurance policy to Michael Silverman's business. About five months later, on July 27, Silverman was seriously injured when his car collided with the car driven by Thomas Casale.

On June 7, 1985, Silverman sued Casale, who was covered by a policy with a limit of $100,000.

On September 19, 1990, Casale's insurer offered the entire $100,000 to settle the case with Silverman. On that same date, Silverman made a claim for benefits to Economy under its Underinsured Motorist and Medical Pay provisions. Economy refused to honor the claim for underinsured motorist coverage, claiming Silverman failed to make a demand for arbitration within two years of the accident.

The lawsuit against Casale was settled on January 31, 1991. Less than a month later, on February 20, Silverman filed this declaratory judgment suit against Economy. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court granted Economy's motion, holding that Silverman did not file his lawsuit or make a written demand for arbitration within two years of the loss, as required by the policy. (Economy never has claimed it received untimely notice of the accident.)

That order is the subject of this appeal. The issue presented is whether the time of "loss" for this claim is the date of the accident or the date that Silverman's lawsuit against Casale was resolved. We reverse the order granting Economy's motion for summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.

THE INSURANCE POLICY

The Economy policy, in part I, reads as follows:

"WORDS AND PHRASES WITH SPECIAL MEANING--READ THEM CAREFULLY

The following words and phrases have special meaning throughout this policy and appear in ...


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