Life Insurance Lawyer Arkansas
Whether you reside in: Conway; Jonesboro; Springdale; Fayetteville; Fort Smith; or Little Rock; our life insurance attorneys who live and work here in Arkansas are here to help resolve your delayed or denied life insurance claim.
American life insurance companies may challenge foreign documents
To many consumers, life insurance seems like a very comforting concept. So long as a policyholder pays her premiums during her lifetime, then her beneficiaries are guaranteed a lucrative death benefit at the time of her death. Those payouts are often intended as “life or death” financial security nets for those left behind when a loved one dies.
What many consumers do not understand, however, is that when a policyholder dies, the insurance company’s lawyers are immediately dispatched to try to find a reason why the policyholder’s death is not covered by the policy terms. They do this because life insurance companies do not make money by simply paying claims when someone dies. To the contrary, they make money by collecting the maximum amount from policyholder premiums, only to find a technicality that allows them to deny paying out valid claims.
Life insurance companies are known to prey on people when they are at their most vulnerable. If they can deny the claim of a grieving widow on highly technical legal grounds, for example, they know that widow’s grief and depression make her much less likely to contest their decision. That’s why claim denial letters are usually sent out so soon after the policyholder’s death.
In one recent case, the life insurer not only exploited the widower’s grief in denying benefits, but exploited the couple’s status as immigrants to justify the faulty denial. As attorneys who specialize in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims, we see these tactics all the time. We’ve made it our sole mission to help innocent consumers overcome these denials. One of the ways we do this is by constantly studying other cases where claim denials are successfully overcome. Read on to explore how one life insurance company tried to use immigration status as the basis for a claim denial.
Model citizens and model employees
This case involves a life insurance policy held by a 59 year old woman named Wanda. Wanda and her husband Tran immigrated from Laos to the United States in 1986. They both gained regular employment, were good stewards of their community, and obtained citizenship status in the United States by 1998.
In 2009, Wanda had a new job with a law firm. As part of her benefits package, she was offered a life insurance policy, which she decided to obtain. During the application process, the life insurer asked for proof of Wanda’s birth date as her premiums would be based on her true age. Wanda provided the company with a copy of her Laotian birth certificate, which was all she had to prove her age. That birth certificate set her age at 58 at the time she obtained the policy, which meant she had to pay much lower premiums than she would have if she were over 60.
Just over a year later, Wanda and Tran took a trip to Laos to visit family. While they were there, Wanda suffered a heart attack and died. Upon returning to the United States, Tran made a claim for death benefits under Wanda’s life insurance policy. Given that she had paid premiums faithfully over the past year, Tran did not anticipate any issue with coverage.
Life insurance company determines a new birth date as a reason for denial
Much to Tran’s dismay, his claim for death benefits was denied. As the insurance adjuster explained in the denial letter, the insurance company had done an independent investigation into Wanda’s life and death after she died. As part of that investigation, they received copies of U.S. immigration documents suggesting that Wanda was 10 years older than she had led them to believe in her insurance application.
Tran was perplexed. He knew his wife was only 59 when she died. He sent the insurance company another copy of Wanda’s birth certificate, along with a copy of her Laotian death certificate, which gave the same date of birth. In response, the insurer produced copies of the immigration documents, which were based on an oral interview immigration workers held with Wanda as she was entering the United States. Those documents set Wanda’s birthdate exactly 10 years earlier than what the Laotian birth and death records indicated.
Based on those immigration documents, the insurance company claimed Wanda was really 68 when she had applied for insurance. As such, the company claimed that in order for Wanda to have a valid policy in place, she would have needed to pay premiums applicable to women aged 60 to 69. Since she did not do that, they claimed they could not make the death payout to Tran.
That was the point at which Tran wisely obtained an attorney specializing in the denial of life insurance claims. That attorney reviewed all of the documentary evidence and did his own investigation into the validity of the Laotian documents, as well as the immigration documents.
Ultimately, the case had to go to court. Tran’s attorney was able to convince the court of the veracity of the Laotian birth and death certificates. He also offered evidence of an immigration worker who testified that many times, things like dates get mistranslated during the oral interviews. Based on all of that evidence, the court found that the insurer had wrongfully denied Tran’s claim.
In this instance, Tran was exceptionally brave to take on the insurance company when they were essentially arguing that he and Wanda falsified documents in order to obtain life insurance coverage. Luckily, with the right attorney by his side, he was able to salvage his family’s good name.
Unfortunately, life insurance companies play tricks like this all the time. It is not unusual for them to contest the veracity of foreign birth certificates, medical records, and the like. They only do this, of course, to avoid paying otherwise valid claims.
If you or a loved on have had a life insurance claim denied on a similar basis, please call our firm today. We focus exclusively on life insurance claim denials and we are here to help you.
- Number one is a misrepresentation on the application. This typically involves failing to disclose a medical condition. However, we can get over this hurdle the majority of the time.
- A lapse of a life insurance policy is probably second most common. What happens is that the insured gets sick and misses a payment or two. These are tough, but often we can get these claims paid.
- Probably third is the type of death exclusion. This could be a suicide or it could be a self-inflicted injury. Murder is another exclusion. Health again can fall under this exclusion. We often win suicide exclusions as we cite case law that the death was actually accidental.
- A very common exclusion is the alcohol exclusion. The insured may have been killed in a car crash, but the autopsy revealed alcohol in the person’s system. We have many legal briefs to combat this exclusion.
- Heroin and opiates or illegal drug exclusion is one of the biggest now. With the opioid crisis, there are tens of thousands of deaths.
- Prescription drug overdose exclusion may involve an overdose of medicine or taken medicines that are contraindicated.
- An ex-spouse being cut off from life insurance benefits is a big one. We actually have a half dozen ways to get over this hurdle.
- Having a spouse not listed as a beneficiary is another reason for denial
- Having a child not listed as a beneficiary is one too.
- Having only a primary beneficiary who is deceased is another.
- On an AD&D (accidental death and dismemberment) life insurance policy, a fall not being considered an accident is extremely common.
- The insured’s age not being correct on the initial application is a reason for denial.
- Having the wrong social security number listed is common.
- An autoerotic asphyxiation exclusion is an easy one for us to beat.
- An omission on the application is a big reason for denying a life insurance claim, but we have legal briefs to this effect.
- Not providing the required documents to the insurance company after death is a reason.
- Information which is argued to not be correct is one.
- When there is a dispute between two or more beneficiaries, an interpleader may occur, and we always get these resolved quickly.
- A beneficiary not named is a reason for not paying it out.
- A life insurance policy may be transferred from one company to another by the employer which causes major problems.