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.

Arkansas denied life insurance claims are nothing new. Existing for many years, life insurance policies have been used to safeguard families and friends alike in case emergencies or accidents come unexpectedly. Unfortunately, denials of life insurance claims, as well as delays, are commonplace.
Our life insurance lawyers who live and work in Arkansas can help, whether you are in: Little Rock; Fort Smith; Fayetteville; Springdale; Jonesboro; Conway; or anywhere in the state of Arkansas, we will get you the benefits to which you are entitled.
Arkansas Life Insurance Law
Policies through work are governed under ERISA. The primary regulating force here in Arkansas is Title 23 of the Arkansas Code, and oversight is provided by the Arkansas Insurance Department.
Most Common Reasons for a Denied Life Insurance Claim in Arkansas
  • 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.
The tricks insurance companies use to deny AD&D claims
Accidental Death & Dismemberment riders don’t always cover accidental deaths
Many people who have life insurance policies also have Accidental Death & Dismemberment (“AD&D”) riders to their original policy. In essence, a rider is simply additional coverage above and beyond what the underlying policy provides. As the name suggests, this specialized coverage kicks in if the policyholder is killed during an accident (as opposed to dying from a disease or of natural causes). It also provides a payout if the policyholder loses their limbs or their vision as the result of an accident.
It seems like a pretty good policy to have, right? There are a million ways each of us could die as the result of an accident – a car wreck, a tumble down the stairs – the options are endless. And AD&D is particularly useful for younger policyholders who are more likely to be involved in an accident, possibly leaving an unprepared spouse or children behind. So, what could go wrong in obtaining this coverage?
Principally, AD&D policies carry the same risks as other life insurance policies. Insurers have every incentive to collect pricey premiums and very little incentive to pay out on valid claims. Indeed, the more effective an insurer is at denying claims, the greater their profits and the happier their shareholders.
As attorneys who specialize in denial of life insurance and AD&D claims, we’ve seen insurance companies use all kinds of tricks to avoid paying accidental death benefits. More importantly, we’ve made it our life’s work to contest faulty denials and help our clients get paid what they deserve. Here are just a few of the types of AD&D denials we have successfully overcome for our clients in recent years.
The accident was not an accident
Insurance companies are famous for engaging in revisionist history. Let’s say you have a husband who was killed in a car wreck. Police came to the scene, reports were taken, and the coroner performed a thorough autopsy. The cause of death is officially determined to be an accident.
Already overcome with grief, you struggle to get together all the paperwork you need to file an AD&D claim, and you do so in a timely manner. You have no reason to expect the insurance company won’t pay out, which is good because you and your family are going to need the money.
Nonetheless, about a month after filing your claim, a denial comes in the mail. The insurance company has decided on its own that your husband’s death wasn’t an accident after all. They claim that after reading all of the police reports, it has become clear that your husband was speeding when the crash occurred. From that, they have concluded that his behavior was reckless and/or intentional and that, in essence, his death was a suicide. They inform you that because suicidal deaths are excluded by your husband’s AD&D policy, they denying your claim.
This may sound far-fetched but it happens all the time. Do not fall for this. Your best course is to contest the denial without delay – it’s also best that you contact us first. We’ve successfully opposed these bogus denials many times before.
The accident was an illness
In the next scenario, imagine that your spouse falls while working in the yard, hits his head on a rock, and is instantly killed. The coroner determines that notwithstanding the fact that your husband had a previously undiscovered kidney tumor, his death was the result of the blow to the head that came from his fall.
As in the prior situation, you gather all relevant documentation, send your claim off to the AD&D policy provider, and you wait for a policy payout. Again, the claim is denied. This time, the insurer tells you that your husband’s kidney tumor was likely wreaking havoc with his entire body, including his blood levels and sense of balance. Accordingly, they’ve determined the death was more a result of the illness than of the accident. Coverage is denied.
Most people feel completely helpless when they receive these denials. Unfortunately, the insurance companies are expecting your despair. They hope, in fact, that your troubles will cause you to simply go away. Don’t fall for this trick. Instead, call an attorney with extensive experience contesting denials of AD&D death benefits.
The accident didn’t kill him fast enough
Finally, let’s go back to the car crash scenario. Once again, you learn the devastating news that your husband has been in a severe car crash. You learn that he wasn’t speeding, nor did the accident occur through any fault of his own. This time, however, he doesn’t die at the scene. Instead, he is rushed to the hospital where he remains in a coma for several months. The doctors tell you he is likely brain dead.
Eventually, you move your husband to an assisted living facility, where he never regains full consciousness. After five years, he passes away in his sleep. An autopsy is performed and the coroner rules that your husband has finally died as a result of the injuries sustained in the car accident.
Distraught, you gather the death certificate, coroner’s report, medical reports, and other documents and you send them off to the AD&D insurer as part of your claims packet. Even in this scenario, you’re likely to receive a denial of claim. How can this be?
In these cases, insurance companies claim that because so many years passed between the accident and the death, no one could be certain the two events are related. Due to this uncertainty, they refuse to pay the death benefit.
In any of the above scenarios, the denial of your claim can be literally heartbreaking. As if the loss of your husband wasn’t enough, now you are faced with financial insecurity.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re facing denial of an AD&D claim, give us a call today. Contesting these bogus denials is what we do every day. We’re here to help.