Life Insurance Lawyer Maryland
Our Maryland life insurance lawyers are here to help.
Under ERISA, if your claim for life insurance benefits has been denied, you have the right to file an appeal with the insurance provider. The insurance provider must provide you with a written explanation of the reason for the denial and instructions for filing an appeal.
If your appeal is also denied, you have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court. However, before you can file a lawsuit, you must exhaust all administrative remedies, which means you must first go through the insurance provider's appeals process.
Additionally, ERISA requires that insurance providers follow specific guidelines when processing claims and making decisions about benefits. For example, insurance providers must provide a clear explanation of the basis for any denial of benefits, and they must provide claimants with a reasonable opportunity to appeal.
If you believe that your ERISA life insurance claim has been wrongly denied, you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in ERISA law. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the appeals process and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Call us today for a free consultation. You need to call to collect! Call us at 800-330-2274 for a free consultation.
Life Insurance Claims in Maryland Recently Settled
- Mass shooting Maryland death denial $139,000.00
- Lincoln Memorial sickness exclusion $52,000.00
- Accidental Death & Dismemberment claim $204,000.00
- Global Life felony exclusion case $102,000.00
- SGLI claim denial beneficiary change $408,200.00
- Kentucky Central Life alcohol exclusion $55,000.00
- First National Life fentanyl exclusion $122,000.00
- AD&D denial due to alcohol and drugs $583,000.00
- London Pacific lapse in payment we won $75,000.00
- Monarch Life interpleader lawsuit won $211,000.00
- Universe Life COVID-19 exclusion we fought $349,000.00
- Genworth beneficiary dispute interpleader $312,750.00
- Penn Treaty Life denial of benefits exclusion $509,300.00
- Denied SGLI claim two beneficiaries disputing $405,290.00
- Prudential nonpayment of premium lapse $258,200.00
- Security National alcohol exclusion denial $113,000.00
- Summit National beneficiary issue resolved $227,000.00
- American General material misrepresentation $422,500.00
- Denied FEGLI claim due to exclusion $401,200.00
- Lincoln National suicide exclusion $104,300.00
- Maryland denied life insurance claim $1,759,250.00
- Unison International denial life insurance claim $501,800.00
- Denied AD&D claim self-inflicted injury $502,900.00
- American change of beneficiary $314,820.00
- Pioneer divorce and ex-spouse $175,300.00
- AIG accidental death AD&D claim $516,900.00
- Northwestern Mutual lapse of policy $150,000.00
- United Republic Life denied claim $212,000.00
- Denial of Accidental Death & Dismemberment 870,000.00
- Banner prescription drug exclusion $106,000.00
- Transamerica autoerotic asphyxiation $224,600.00
- Cigna dispute among beneficiaries $317,100.00
- Denied life insurance claim Maryland $752,630.00
- Bankers denial of life benefits won $116,000.00
Maryland Life Insurance Law
Most life insurance policies are relatively simple. The insured obtains a policy and pays insurance premiums to keep that policy active. In the event the policyholder dies and his manner of death is not subject to any policy exclusion (such as suicide), then his designated beneficiary will receive a death payout in the amount called for in the policy. At least, that is how it is supposed to work.
In reality, however, things are not always that simple. Many people obtain a life insurance policy, name a beneficiary under the policy, then never really think about the policy again other than to make premium payments from time to time. In the meantime, all sorts of life events can occur that would make the policyholder wish he had paid more attention to what would happen to policy proceeds when he passed away.
As attorneys who specialize in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims, we see these issues arise all the time. Often, we are called upon to fight for the rights of a contingent or unnamed beneficiary who believes the insured’s policy did not express his true intentions at the time of death. While we can often successfully contest claim denials issued against these individuals, the best course is for policyholders to regularly revisit their policies to ensure their current intentions are clearly expressed.
This article explores three important life events that underscore the importance of changing beneficiary designations to match current intent. Two of those scenarios also highlight how critical it is for policyholders to name a contingent beneficiary. We hope these vignettes serve as a reminder that life insurance policies are only as good as your effort to keep them up-to-date.
Divorce and the life insurance claim
Naturally, when most married people obtain a life insurance policy, they name their spouse as a beneficiary. Yet, in truth, 40 to 50% of American marriages end in divorce. While many divorce decrees mandate what should happen to life insurance policies held by the spouses, some people forget to include them in their asset lists. When they later die, the person they least want to benefit from their death ends up being the person still named as a beneficiary.
We see cases all the time where a divorced person simply forgets to change his beneficiary under the policy. This happens even where there are no divorce-related restrictions on changing the beneficiary and where the policyholder later remarries another person. Not surprisingly, these cases often end up in a nasty lawsuit between the named beneficiary (the first spouse) and the person who is likely the intended beneficiary (the current spouse).
We’ve seen these cases go both ways, but generally speaking, courts will uphold the express terms of the policy. In other words, the ex-spouse is likely to be the person who receives the benefit upon the policyholder’s death.
Note, however, that in cases where the policyholder failed to ever name a beneficiary at all, the ex-spouse is unlikely to receive policy proceeds. Rather, the death payout will be distributed as part of the policyholder’s estate.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to revisit your life insurance policy’s beneficiary designations as soon as your divorce is finalized. If the divorce decree mandates that certain persons be designated – the ex-spouse or the couple’s children, for example – then those instructions should be followed to the letter. If not, name someone who won’t have you turning in your grave when it comes time for your life insurance company to make a policy payout.
Beneficiary pre-deceases the life insurance policyholder
This is another common scenario where people forget to undertake the important task of changing their life insurance beneficiary designations. Imagine a childless couple where the husband has a life insurance policy naming his wife as the sole beneficiary. What happens if she passes away before him and he fails to change his beneficiary designation? In most states, his life insurance proceeds would be distributed as an estate asset. In many cases, however, that means those dollars end up in the hands of someone the policyholder never would have chosen.
This situation underscores the importance of naming a contingent beneficiary. Under most policies, the contingent beneficiary only recovers the life insurance proceeds if the primary beneficiary pre-deceases the policyholder. While it can be uncomfortable for couples to go through the process of naming contingent beneficiaries, it is a critical step toward protecting the policyholder’s full and true intentions.
Life insurance beneficiary kills the policyholder
In one final scenario that is (thankfully) less common than the other two, courts are sometimes called upon to decide what happens to life insurance proceeds when the beneficiary is deemed to be the person who killed the policyholder. What happens then?
Most states have what are known as “slayer statutes.” These laws basically prevent a killer from benefitting financially from their act of ending another person’s life. This means they won’t collect life insurance proceeds (even if they are the named beneficiary) and they won’t collect on any inheritance set aside for them in the deceased’s will.
Again, this is a scenario where having a contingent beneficiary is critical. Without naming that alternate beneficiary, life insurance proceeds will likely end up in the hands of an heir that may or may not be a match for the policyholder’s intentions.
In our line of work, we see fights over improper beneficiary designations all the time. While we are happy to fight for the rights of deserving beneficiaries (and have a very successful record at doing so), the best course for all life insurance policyholders is to simply revisit their designations any time a major life event occurs. Ultimately, clear and current beneficiary designations are the safest way to ensure your final wishes are carried out.
If you have received a life insurance claim denial on the basis that you are not the proper beneficiary, we may be able to help you. Call us today for a free consultation. We’re here to help.
Dealing with the death of a child is a very traumatic experience. Unfortunately, it can also be very costly. Hospital bills and funeral costs are just the beginning of it. Parents will often miss work, and they may suffer in other ways that hurt them financially. Life insurance for children is meant to help ease this burden. Here are some sad stories.
Babies Are at Risk
In 2017, the Washington Post ran a story about a string of murders that appear to all have been tied to life insurance policies. Perhaps the most horrifying part is that all the victims were either children or developmentally disabled. In one case, a man took out a $750,000 policy on his newborn infant son. He was the sole beneficiary, and he was spending $150 a month on premiums despite earning a salary of only $1,500 per month.
He seemed to be a good father, but then the child died mysteriously. When he tried to collect on the policy, the life insurance company noticed he was acting strangely and trying to schedule medical evaluations without the child’s mother knowing about it. He would later explain that the insurance policy was supposed to be some form of college savings, but instead of collecting the insurance, the dad would up in jail for murder.
Backlash And Industry Concern
That was just one story. The Post also looked at the case of a 37-year-old disabled person that was shot and another infant that was either drowned or suffocated. These tragic cases are not unique, and there is actually a Coalition Against Insurance Fraud that seeks to deter such fraud. This group, which is largely funded by insurance companies, has actually urged the insurance industry to be more critical of child insurance policies.
The group points out that many insurance scams have huge red flags in hindsight. Taking out a massive insurance policy on a child for no reason should be a warning sign. New regulations have been put in place in states like New York and Washington following highly-publicized cases where children were murdered for their life insurance.
Some Scrutiny May Be Expected, But It Should Be Fair
If your child has passed away, please accept our deepest condolences. If your child was insured, we understand it can be a terrible process to request the death benefits. You should certainly be aware that the insurance company may want to investigate the circumstances. It just makes sense, given the horrible history in this area. That said, insurance companies are wrong to deny valid claims without proper cause.
If you have had a claim denied, you should get your case reviewed by an experienced life insurance lawyer as quickly as possible. You usually have a limited amount of time to challenge the denial, and you need a seasoned life insurance attorney to give you the best chance of success. At Lassen Law, we have seen this all before and if it is appropriate we will vigorously fight for the full policy amount.
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