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Insurance Company Relents, Pays Victim’s Family

October 22, 1985

CLEVELAND (AP) _ An insurance company has reversed its previous decision and has paid funeral expenses for a 67-year-old diabetic who died as a result of the June firebombing of her home.

United Insurance Co. of America had refused to pay Mabel Gant’s $2,500 death benefit. She had diabetes, and the company alleged she did not reveal the condition when she took out the life insurance policy in 1984.

Diabetes played no part in the death and police still are seeking those responsible for the blast that gutted her home.

United Insurance’s refusal to pay the death benefit was first reported last week by The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Company officials said the publicity caused them to review the case and have a change of heart.

The company has paid a $2,055 funeral bill and on Monday gave the Gant family $500 cash, but company officials said the act was charity, not a payout.

Mabel Gant’s son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Mary, were pleased with the payment.

″Charity?″ Mary Gant asked. ″At the time she took out the insurance they didn’t call it charity. She paid for it. No one is giving us anything here.″

Mabel Gant, trapped in her first-floor bedroom, was asphyxiated. Police said the blast was racially motivated. The Gants were among the few black families in city’s Slavic Village neighborhood.

United Insurance officials said they still believe the circumstances of Mrs. Gant’s death were irrelevant to the claim, and their refusal to pay was a correct one.

In rejecting the claim, United Insurance had said Mrs. Gant answered ″No″ to a series of health questions on her application, including one about diabetes. At the time she filled out the form, Mrs. Gant was taking medication for diabetes.

Mary Gant said she was certain the answer was an oversight, but the insurance company maintained it was a material misrepresentation that made the policy void. United Insurance had refunded $292 in premium payments.

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