Life Insurance Lawyer Iowa

Whether you reside in: Waterloo; Iowa City; Sioux City; Davenport; Cedar Rapids or Des Moines; our life insurance attorneys who live and work here in Iowa are here to help resolve your delayed or denied life insurance claim.

Iowa Denied Life Insurance Claims Recently Settled

  • Liberty misrepresentation on the application $308,430.00
  • Prudential AD&D accidental death denial $512,699.00
  • Waterloo no coverage at the time of death $116,000.00
  • Cedar Rapids contestability period medical $387,000.00
  • ERISA life insurance appeal successfully won $132,000.00
  • Nationwide prescription drug exclusion $271,300.00
  • Transamerica autoerotic asphyxiation death $324,420.00
  • Iowa denied life insurance claim $1,300,00.00
  • Family Heritage delay of benefits medical $168,200.00
  • American General ambiguity on application $419,500.00
  • Des Moines mistake on the application $1,090,000.00
  • Sioux City ambiguous policy language $573,000.00
  • Davenport dangerous activity exclusion $784,000.00
  • Mass Mutual alcohol exclusion resolved $615,30000
  • Iowa bad faith life insurance claim case $837,000.00
  • Assurity sickness exclusion paid up $303,150.00
  • Iowa City interpleader lawsuit we won $840,000.00
  • Denied life insurance claim Iowa $920,600.00
  • Unum long delay no reason $525,750.00
  • AIG heroin drug overdose exclusion $154,000.00
  • Iowa divorce and life insurance case $712,000.00
  • SGLI beneficiary dispute settled $400,000.00

Making an accidental death seem like suicide

How life insurance companies use questionable deaths to their advantage

On a base level, most of us understand why insurance companies do not typically make policy payouts when the policyholder commits suicide. If policyholders could indiscriminately control when the life insurer would have to pay death benefits, insurance companies would go broke every day.

Accordingly, most of us also understand that the majority of life insurance policies contain what are known as “suicide exclusions.” Simply explained, suicide exclusions relieve a life insurance company from having to pay out policy benefits if the policyholder dies as the result of suicide. From a business perspective, this makes undeniable sense.

As attorneys who specialize in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims, however, we also know that life insurance companies frequently misuse the suicide exclusion to deny otherwise valid claims. Unfortunately, the beneficiaries who are left behind are the true victims of this predatory practice by insurers.

This article explains a recent situation where a life insurer declared a policyholder’s death to be a suicide notwithstanding a wealth of credible evidence to the contrary. The story also goes to show just how important it is to fight back when an insurance company denies your claim.

The policy at issue

The case involved a high-rise window washer named Gary. Gary had immigrated to the United States from Taiwan several years earlier and had forged a successful career washing the exterior windows of tall office buildings in the metro-LA region. Eventually, Gary earned U.S. citizenship and started his own window-washing service.

After enjoying 10 years of increasing success, Gary took on several new employees and offered them an impressive benefits package. Among those benefits was a group life insurance policy for employees and their families. As the sponsor of the plan, Gary also decided to reap the benefits. In September 2015, he obtained a personal life insurance policy worth $400,000. Gary named as his beneficiary his only brother, Jack.

The life insurance policy, like most policies, contained an exclusion that relieved the insurer from paying a death benefit if the policyholder committed suicide. Even if he had read the full policy language, this wouldn’t have been a concern for Gary. He was one of the happiest people around. In fact, no one who knew him could imagine him committing suicide.

An untimely death

Two years after Gary’s life insurance policy had been in place, the unthinkable happened. Gary was cleaning the windows of a 32-story high rise office building. The cage he was in – which was suspended from anchors on the roof of the building – suddenly gave way. The cage plummeted all the way to the sidewalk below, where Gary was instantly killed.

There were other important circumstances surrounding Gary’s death. For one thing, Gary had available to him a personal harness that would have secured him to the building separate and apart from the cage that was connected to the roof. Witnesses would later testify that Gary rarely deployed these safety features, as he was concerned they would limit his movement while doing his job.

Additionally, Gary’s business partner testified that Gary was scheduled to meet with a major investor later in the day. Gary’s personal journal showed that he was excited about this meeting and excited to grow the business beyond its current operations.

Finally, the post-mortem investigation revealed other indicia that Gary was very happy with his life. Among those clues were the facts that Gary: (a) had recently gotten engaged to be married; (b) put an offer down on a large house for he and his fiancé; and (c) wrote to his fiancé’s family in Taiwan, asking them for her hand in marriage.

A life insurance claim denial

A few weeks after Gary died, his brother Jack submitted a claim for death benefits to Gary’s life insurance company. Along with his claim form, he submitted documentary evidence including the police report concerning Gary’s death, the autopsy report, and the coroner’s report. Each of those reports indicated that Gary died as the result of an “accidental fall.”

The insurance company, however, saw things differently. They issued a claim denial letter to Jack within a matter of weeks. As Jack read the letter, he was shocked to learn that the insurance company had deemed Gary’s death a suicide. Specifically, they said:

At the time of your brother’s death, he had personalized safety equipment available to him, which he declined to employ. Consequently, it is safe to assume Gary intended to die when his window-washing cage fell from the building.

Upon receiving this letter, Jack immediately contacted an attorney specializing in the denial of life insurance claims. He learned that it is not unusual at all for life insurers to deem deaths a suicide when all other evidence points to a contrary conclusion. They do this, of course, to avoid paying out on legitimate claims.

In this circumstance, Jack’s attorney sued the life insurer in federal court and quickly obtained a ruling that mandated the life insurance company to pay Jack the full death benefit, with interest. In making its ruling, the court relied heavily on all the indications that Gary’s life was a happy one and that he was looking forward to a successful future. The fact that he failed to wear available safety equipment was seen as an unfortunate reality of the industry.

As attorneys who specialize in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims, we see insurance companies try to wrongly attribute deaths to suicide all the time. They do this, of course, in a simple attempt to avoid paying out on otherwise valid claims.

If you have received a similar claim denial from a life insurance company, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We contest wrongful denials all the time. We know every trick in the life insurer’s arsenal. Our track record of success in overcoming their deceitful denials speaks for itself. It would be an honor for us to assist you in obtaining the benefits that were intended for you. Call us today.

Iowa 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 Iowa can help, whether you are in: Des Moines; Cedar Rapids; Davenport; Sioux City; Iowa City; Waterloo; or anywhere in the state of Iowa, we will get you the benefits to which you are entitled.
Iowa Life Insurance Law
Policies through work are governed under ERISA. The primary regulating force here in Iowa is Title 13 of the Iowa Code, and oversight is provided by the Iowa Insurance Division.
Most Common Reasons for a Denied Life Insurance Claim in Iowa
  • 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.
When your weight impacts your life insurance
Life insurance companies often use weight as a reason to deny life insurance claims
A person’s weight has become an unfortunate controversy in the United States. On the one hand, there are those who believe a person should be able to live at whatever size they want without discrimination. On the other hand, there are people who believe that obesity is a major health risk that needs to be dealt with as a public health crisis.
Regardless of who is right, there is no doubt that obesity is on the rise in the U.S. In fact, recent reports from the Center for Disease Control reveal that nearly 100 million people in the United States are currently obese. While obesity itself is not said to be a leading cause of death in America, the condition is reported to contribute to several of the other leading causes – heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer among them.
Perhaps it is not surprising then that life insurance companies are highly concerned with weight. Indeed, if you’ve ever applied for life insurance, you know that the application process can include several questions about weight, eating habits, and the like. If your application requires a physical examination, the examiner will almost certainly take note of your weight, height, and body mass index.
The truth of the matter is, overweight and obese individuals are going to pay higher life insurance premiums than others. Interestingly, insurance companies may also reduce your premium rates if you can prove a significant and sustained weight loss.
But what happens when you die with a valid life insurance policy in place? Can the insurer use your weight to deny payment of a death benefit to your beneficiaries?
You better believe they’re going to try. Below are just a couple of the ways we have seen life insurance companies try to justify claim denials based on weight. It’s important to understand that if you’re facing a claim denial based on one of these reasons, you need to contact an attorney specializing in denial of life insurance claims right away. We’ve successfully contested these denials before, and we’re here to help you receive the benefits that were intended for you.
Material misrepresentation
Sometimes, a person can receive a life insurance policy without undergoing an in-person physical examination. This is often the case when a life insurance policy is part of an employee benefit package, for example. Nonetheless, the insurer usually requires new employees to fill out a written questionnaire. You better believe that questionnaire will include inquiries about your weight.
There are several reasons a person might not answer those questions with 100% accuracy. Many people, for example, do not own a scale. Thus, they may have to completely guess when making representations about their weight. Other people are simply oblivious to the weight they have slowly accumulated over the years. While they still think they weigh roughly what they did in college, their weight may crept up to number much higher than they would have guessed.
If one of these policyholders later dies during the policy term, the life insurance company will undertake an investigation before deciding whether to pay out a death benefit. Some of the things the insurance company will look at are recent medical records and autopsy reports. Without a doubt, these documents will include statements about the deceased’s weight at or near the time of death.
If the policyholder’s weight was significantly higher at the time of death than it was stated to be at the time of the policy application, there’s a good chance the life insurance company will deny any claim against the policy. Rather, they will claim that the deceased made a “material misrepresentation” on their application that amounts to fraud. Due to that fraud, they will argue, they are able to rescind the insurance policy all together and deny any payout.
If you’re facing this situation, don’t settle for denial of your claim. There are several reasons why the application may not have materially misrepresented the insured’s weight. One reason we see all the time is that the policyholder’s weight gain was very recent. Often this is due to some medication or other external factor that caused rapid weight gain. In these instances, you need an attorney specialized in life insurance claim denials to contest the denial of your claim.
Self-inflicted harm
Another baseless reason we’ve seen life insurance companies use for denying claims is the idea that the insured gained excessive weight in the last years of their life in an attempt to hasten their own death. Of course, this reasoning is typically employed when the underlying policy contains a suicide exclusion.
Under a suicide exclusion, the life insurance company is relieved from paying death benefits if the insured took intentional actions to harm themselves. The insurers use this theory all the time outside of obvious cases of suicide such as hanging or slitting one’s wrists. Indeed, we’ve seen them proclaim deaths to be suicides in cases where the insured wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when they died in a car accident. Frequently, the insurance company will rely on the suicide exclusion even if the official coroner’s report ruled that the death was due to an accident.
Thus, while the theory that a person’s weight could be used to infer suicide may sound far-fetched, we know that life insurance companies will stop at nothing in an attempt to avoid paying claims. They hire hordes of lawyers who are paid to come up with claim denials just like this.
If you are facing a life insurance claim denial that is based, even in part, on the weight of the deceased, please know that you are able to contest that denial. You should not, however, go it alone. Your best bet is to hire an attorney who specializes in life insurance claim denials. We see these bogus claim denials all the time and we live to help our clients overcome them. Call us today.