Royal-Globe Ins. Co. v. Craven
411 Mass. 629, 585 N.E.2d 315 (Mass. 1992)

  • Craven was injured by a hit-and-run driver and spent almost a month in the hospital.  She didn’t get around to filing a claim with her insurance company, Royal-Globe, until four months after the accident. Royal-Globe denied her claim because she didn’t report in a timely manner.  Craven filed a demand for arbitration, and Royal-Globe sued for a declaration that they had no obligation to submit to arbitration.
    • The Royal-Globe policy said that all hit-and-run claims must be reported within 24-hours.
      • Craven was unconscious in intensive care during those 24-hours!
    • The insurance company did pay for most of her damages, they only refused to pay the uninsured motorist deductible.
  • The Trial Court found for Craven. Royal-Globe appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that Craven should be excused from the 24-hour requirement because of her injuries.
    • Royal-Globe argued that, even if she was excused for the time she was in intensive care, the 24-hour clock should be reimposed once she was released from the hospital.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and found that Royal-Globe was not liable to Craven.
    • The Appellate Court found that even if the 24-hour deadline is not met, the policy requires prompt notification.
      • Craven was out of the hospital for more than three months before she bothered to call Royal-Globe about the accident.
    • The Court found that the uninsured motorist provision was a condition, of the contract.  Breaching a condition of a contract excuses the other party from performance.