Justice Judith O’Shea

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Gulati submitted an insurance claim for a fire loss at his Ferndale home. Insurer Allstate disclaimed coverage. Long-time customer Gulati sued for breach of contract. He purchased a homeowner’s policy for a Ferndale home. Subsequently, he moved to and bought a homeowner’s policy in Elmira. The Ferndale home suffered damage from an ice storm and an investigator inspected the premises, speaking with the “house-sitter,” and Allstate paid out on the claim. After the house was then destroyed by fire, Allstate disclaimed coverage claiming Gulati was required to–but did not primarily reside at that residence. The court noted, however, the contracts did not define the word “resides” and both policies permitted that the residence may be vacant or unoccupied for any length of time. It stated Allstate was on notice that Gulati purchased and resided in the Elmira residence, not the Ferndale home and the conflicting policy provisions were construed against the insurer and resolved in favor of Gulati. Also, the court found Allstate continued to accept premium payments for several years after it knew, or should have known, Gulati was not residing there and owned two residences, and accepted payments 17 months after disclaiming coverage. Thus, Gulati’s motion was granted.