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Insurance was cancelled before pickup hit house

After reviewing policy language and a timeline, a judge found that a Pierce County house destroyed by fire after being hit by a pickup was not insured.

St. Croix County Judge Scott Needham ruled that Randall and Sue Hendrickson's house insurance had legitimately been cancelled nearly two months before the home was hit by a GMC Sierra driven by Lisa Villigan, 39. The accident occurred Feb. 17, 2007.

The vehicle Villigan was driving struck the Hendricksons' house and hit a gas meter, triggering a natural gas explosion. Villigan died in the incident. Prescott Policeman Ben Henrich was injured as he attempted to help the woman and was thrown an estimated 15 feet by the explosion.

Villigan's pickup and the Hendricksons' house were destroyed.

In an order signed Feb. 3, Needham denied the Hendricksons' motion for a summary judgment against Foremost Insurance Company.

According to background in the decision, the Hendricksons bought an insurance policy for their property at 1010 Pearl St., Prescott, in October 2006.

On Dec. 8, 2006, Foremost sent a notice of cancellation saying coverage would expire Dec. 22, 2006. The reason given for the cancellation was that missing and damaged shingles on the house's roof increased the likelihood of loss.

According to court records, Randall Hendrickson signed and cashed the refund check Dec. 18, 2006.

After the fire, the Hendricksons filed a claim for $224,063. Foremost denied the claim. In December 2008 the Hendricksons offered to settle for $157,241 plus costs.

Although the judge found the cancellation language to be ambiguous and read a 30-day notice of cancellation in favor of the Hendricksons, he determined that the fire occurred 71 days after the couple received the cancellation notice.

"Because the policy terminated prior to the time of the fire, the damage caused by the fire is not covered by the insurance policy," wrote Needham.

The Hendricksons' attorney, Charles B. Harris of Hudson, could not be reached for comment either Friday or Monday.