Personalized service for policyholders and beneficiaries
A life insurance policy is a valuable asset, but only if the company you contract with honors its terms. John V. Tucker and his team of life insurance attorneys in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale help policyholders and beneficiaries resolve conflicts with life insurance companies so clients can obtain the full value of their contract. Our life insurance attorneys draw on more than 40 years of combined experience, knowledge and skill to advocate for you. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients who have been wrongfully denied life insurance or accidental death benefits from many of the major life insurance companies. If your claim has been unfairly denied, our legal team focuses our efforts on one goal: winning benefits for you.
Common reasons that life insurance claims are denied
An insurance policy is a business contract and is governed by contract law. Life insurance claim adjusters and the defense attorneys who work for insurers know the law well and try to limit their company’s liability whenever they can. Insurers cite many reasons for denying claims, including:
- Beneficiary designation disputes – Beneficiary forms may not have been filled out correctly, or multiple designation forms may exist naming different people. There may be claims of undue influence too. The life insurance company may pay the wrong person, or it might acknowledge that more than one person has a claim and simply go to court to have a judge work it out in what is called an interpleader lawsuit.
- The death occurred during the contestability period — Every life insurance policy allows for a period, generally lasting two years, during which the insurance company can contest the policy on various grounds. Especially relevant are any indications the policyholder took out the contract in bad faith. For example, a party who just received a cancer diagnosis or one who is contemplating suicide is not buying a policy to guard against risk, but with the intent to collect. However, insurance companies do not simply look for fraud; they also take advantage of technicalities.
- The policyholder failed to disclose required information — The insurance company must be able to assess whether a policyholder is a good risk. If a policyholder fails to disclose relevant medical information, or facts such as DUI convictions that make the applicant for a policy a higher risk, the company can refuse to honor the contract. Of course, the reason for refusing payment has to be material to the formation of the contract. Minor mistakes or omissions do not give grounds for denying payment.
- The type of death was not covered — Historically, life insurance policies have had many exclusions for death due to dangerous activities, such as skydiving. Today, most policies will pay for a death under any circumstances, even suicide, if it occurs after the exclusionary period. However, policyholders who are at risk of death for a specific cause may have that cause of death excluded from the contract.
- The deceased’s body was never found — When someone dies in another country or in an activity like scuba diving, it is possible that their body may not be recoverable. In some foreign countries, immediate burial or cremation is required. In situations like a scuba accident, it can be even more complicated. Our firm has handled many claims in these types of situations, and every one is different and requires skilled life insurance attorneys to deal with the unique and personalized situation.
- Premiums were not paid — If a policyholder is not current with payments (a situation called “premium lapse”), the company may try to cancel the contract. However, the laws of the state dictate the length of time a policy can go unpaid before coverage lapses, as well as notice requirements for the insurer. In some states, like Florida, people over a certain age may designate a secondary person to send premium notices to. Similarly, if you have experienced a period of disability, you may be eligible for a premium waiver for a certain time. If the policy is through employment, it may be the employer’s responsibility to pay the premiums or at least to deduct them from the policyholder’s paycheck. If that hasn’t happened, beneficiaries may still be able to recover benefits.
When your life insurance benefits are at risk, you can rely on the life insurance attorneys at our firm for dedicated, personalized service focused on getting the results you need.
Read posts on our Life Insurance Blog Archive to learn more about your rights under Life and Accidental Death Insurance policies and ERISA plans.
Let our Tampa Bay and Ft. Lauderdale legal team resolve your life insurance dispute
When your insurance benefits are in jeopardy, we are here to help. John V. Tucker and his experienced legal team deliver excellent client service and there are no upfront legal fees. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (866) 233-5044 or contact our office online.