Life Insurance Lawyer New Mexico
Our New Mexico life insurance lawyers handle delayed life insurance claims, denied life insurance claims, beneficiary disputes, and interpleader lawsuits. Call us today for a free consultation. You need to call to collect!
New Mexico Interpleader Law
We handle life insurance beneficiary disputes and interpleader lawsuits, and the laws are complex. Typically, the interpleader is a Federal Rule 22 Interpleader. We will fight to get you the life insurance benefits.
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New Mexico Denied Life Insurance Claims Recently Settled
- AAA COVID-19 death denial won $103,200.00
- Mass shooting New Mexico exclusions $44,000.00
- Accidental Death & Dismemberment drugs $260,000.00
- Kemper intoxication exclusion $111,000.00
- American United coronavirus death $25,000.00
- National Life Group felony exclusion $49,000.00
- AD&D denial due to oxycontin won $208,000.00
- Southern Farm Bureau wrong age $97,000.00
- Midland National suicide exclusion $55,000.00
- VGLI beneficiary change form $405,325.00
- Ohio National chronic illness exclusion $40,000.00
- Cuna Mutual felony exclusion crime $21,000.00
- Lincoln Heritage interpleader lawsuit $308,000.00
- Primerica self-inflicted injury suicide $212,000.00
- AIG no coverage at the time of death $459,000.00
- Foresters drunk driving death issue $280,000.00
- New Mexico denied life insurance claim $1,357,200.00
- ERISA competing claimants issue $182,000.00
- Globe material misrepresentation $114,000.00
- Mutual of Omaha autoerotic asphyxiation death $229,000.00
- Genworth issue with grace period $102,270.00
- New Mexico divorce and life insurance $826,900.00
- SGLI resolution with beneficiaries $400,000.00
- Transamerica policy not in force $105,000.00
- FEGLI invalid beneficiary designation $135,200.00
- New Mexico denied AD&D policy $754,000.00
- USAA non-payment of premiums $116,000.00
New Mexico Life Insurance Law
Life insurance companies are like any other for-profit business. They exist for the sole purpose of making the most money for executives and shareholders. To do this, they need to collect as much money as possible. This typically happens by collecting premiums from policyholders. In addition to that, however, life insurance companies strive to avoid spending money. To achieve this goal, they try very hard to avoid paying out claims against policies.
Indeed, life insurance companies (and the armies of lawyers they employ) have become experts at concocting reasons for denying claims. This claim denial process begins before a single person ever purchases a policy. It begins with the drafting of long-winded, complex, and oft-times confusing policy language. The most important provisions of these policies for the insurance companies are the exclusions.
Exclusions are basically formal reasons why the life insurance company can deny a claim. Some common exclusions include suicide, material misrepresentations in the application process, and nonpayment of premiums. Of course, there are lesser known exclusions as well. One of those involves death during the commission of a crime.
This article explores a case where an insurance company used this lesser known exclusion to deny a valid claim for death benefits. Fortunately, this case turned out favorably for the beneficiary. Many, however, do not – especially when beneficiaries try to navigate the muddy waters of the insurance industry on their own.
A passionate romance
The case at hand involves a married couple – Linda and John. Linda and John met while they were attending college and fell madly in love. Within a year of graduation, they were married. Driven by a common desire to succeed, both of them obtained graduate degrees and went on to accept high-paying jobs in medical research and development.
Everyone who knew John and Linda knew one truth about them – as much as they loved one another, they were prone to having epic arguments. This was true from the outset of their relationship and was an unfortunate reality that plagued them throughout their lives together. Ultimately, it was their passionate arguing that led to John’s demise.
One fourth of July, John and Linda attended a large party at the home of one of their friends. The home was located out in the country off of a narrow and winding road. Though John had agreed to act as the couple’s designated driver that evening, he ended up having a few drinks before the sun went down. This angered Linda who, having had several drinks herself, proceeded to berate John in front of their friends.
Enraged, John hopped in the couple’s car on his own. As he sped away from the party, several people expressed concern for his safety. Knowing the couple’s propensity to fight and make up rather quickly, however, no one did anything to stop John.
Unfortunately, this was to be the couple’s last fight. As he sped away from the party, John failed to negotiate a curve in the road and his car veered off an embankment. John’s body was found in the car the next morning. He had not survived the impact.
The police undertook a full investigation surrounding the circumstances of the accident. The police report noted that John may have been driving as fast as 100 miles per hour – a speed that constituted a felony in that state. Not having any witnesses to the accident, however, their only conclusive finding was that John was driving above the posted speed limit when he lost control of the car. A coroner’s report stated that John’s cause of death was blunt force trauma occasioned by the accident.
Sadly life insurance claim denied
Shortly after the accident, Linda dug out John’s life insurance policy. The policy provided a death benefit of $50,000, plus an additional $150,000 if John died accidentally. Linda made a claim for the full $200,000 benefit. Given that John died in an accident, Linda never thought her claim would be denied.
That is exactly what happened, however. Nearly one month after Linda submitted her claim, she received a claim denial letter in the mail. The stated reason for the denial was that John died during the commission of a felony (driving in excess of 100 mph) and that the policy contained an express exclusion relieving the insurance company from paying a claim under such circumstances.
Linda was devastated. On top of losing her husband, she was now unsure how she was going to pay off the mortgage on the couple’s house. Just as she was becoming resigned to the claim denial, a friend suggested she call an attorney specializing in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims.
It’s a good thing she did. The attorney successfully argued in court that there had been no conclusive finding that John was driving at a felony rate of speed at the time of his death. Rather, police simply noted that he “may have” been driving 100 mph. Without additional proof that a felony occurred, the life insurance company had no basis for invoking the felony exclusion of John’s life insurance policy.
Ultimately, the court agreed. It awarded Linda the full policy benefit, with interest. That allowed Linda to pay off the mortgage and begin to piece her life back together without the strain of financial insecurity.
As lawyers who specialize in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims, we see insurance companies employ these tactics every day. They will twist facts and reach unsupportable conclusions in a simple effort to avoid paying out on otherwise valid claims. While this may be a way for them to increase profits, it is a practice that can destroy the lives of beneficiaries.
If you or someone you love has had a life insurance claim denied for a reason that just doesn’t seem fair, call us today. We’ll talk over the circumstances of your case and let you know whether we believe you can successfully contest that denial. We’re here to help.
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For those of you who are not familiar with the practice, it is a somewhat controversial method of sexual self gratification. During autoerotic asphyxiation (also known as “hypoxyphilia”), a person temporarily deprives the brain of oxygen. When done properly, it is said to create a feeling of euphoria and heightened sensation during the act. There are several ways that one can achieve restricted blood flow to the brain. Some of the most common methods include (1) applying pressure to the arteries in the neck that carry blood to the brain; (2) restricting airflow to the lungs; and (3) applying pressure to the veins in the neck that carry blood out of the brain.
The third method is achieved by placing minimal pressure around the neck, typically with a pliable noose. When blood is prevented from leaving the brain in this manner, the brain still tries to extract oxygen from the blood that is trapped there. It will continue to do so until oxygen is nearly depleted. Medically speaking, the practice causes two simultaneous events to occur: (1) a state of hypercapnia (an increase of carbon dioxide in the blood); and (2) a state of hypoxia (the decrease of oxygen in the blood). When these two states arise, sexual gratification is reported to increase dramatically.
Typically, a person engaging in hypoxyphilia rigs a noose system that is designed to release once the person passes out. With the pressure gone from the veins in the neck, fresh oxygen can return to the brain and the person regains consciousness quickly. Despite the fact that the use of a noose around one’s neck looks like an attempt at suicide by hanging, the purpose of this practice is not to commit suicide. Rather, as stated above, it is intended only to increase sexual gratification.
What does autoerotic asphyxiation have to do with life insurance?
As you can imagine, when people start messing with oxygen deprivation, mistakes can happen. Death during autoerotic asphyxiation is rare. Nonetheless, it is reported to occur nearly two percent of cases. When death does result, loved ones who are left behind are sometimes faced with making a claim against the deceased’s life insurance policy.
As you might guess, life insurance companies typically respond with a quick denial of claim. Let’s face it, life insurance companies don’t make money by paying out death benefits unabashedly. Rather, they profit from collecting premiums and denying claims for any reason they can think of. In cases of autoerotic asphyxiation, the insurers usually cite two bases for the denial: (1) the suicide exclusion of the policy; and (2) the exclusion for self-inflicted bodily harm.
The insurer’s attempt to characterize hypoxyphilia as suicide is nearly futile. In order for a person to commit suicide in the truest sense, they have to have intended to die. The obvious intent behind autoerotic asphyxiation is not death. To the contrary, it is sexual pleasure.
The argument that autoerotic asphyxiation can be characterized as self-inflicted bodily harm, however, has been more controversial. And, when a beneficiary receives a claim denial letter citing this policy exclusion, they sometimes have a hard time articulating why it should not apply. That is why it is so critical to contact a lawyer specializing in the denial of life insurance claims. We know that numerous courts have found that autoerotic asphyxiation does not constitute self-inflicted bodily harm and thus can help you contest your claim denial.
What the courts say about self-inflicted bodily harm
Perhaps surprisingly, cases involving life insurance claim denials due to autoerotic asphyxiation have reached some of the highest courts in the land. One case out of the 8thCircuit Court of Appeals involved a policyholder who died while practicing hypoxyphilia in the cab of his 18-wheeler. He had used a noose system that was designed to release when his body passed out from oxygen deprivation. Unfortunately, the system failed and he passed away.
His beneficiaries filed a claim for death benefits under his policy and the claim was predictably denied by the life insurance company. Specifically, the insurer claimed that the policyholder’s death was the result of self-inflicted bodily injury, which was excluded in the underlying policy. At that point, his beneficiaries made a wise move – they hired attorneys who specialize these types of life insurance claim denials.
When the case made its way to the 8thCircuit, the beneficiary’s lawyers convinced the court that autoerotic asphyxiation did not fall within the “self-inflicted bodily injury” exclusion because the temporary deprivation of oxygen to the brain was not an “injury.” Because no injury occurred, the policy exclusion did not apply and the insurer was forced to pay the claim.
A few years later, the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals faced a case with very similar facts and a very similar justification for the claim denial by the insurer. The policy at issue in that case had an exclusion for “intentional self-inflicted injury.” Using slightly different reasoning than the 8thCircuit, this Court found that death by autoerotic asphyxiation was not “intentional.” The result, however, was the same – the insurer was found to have improperly denied the beneficiary’s claim for death benefits and was forced to pay up.
These are fine distinctions but they matter greatly when you need to contest a denial of claim from a life insurance company. In these instances, it is wise to retain an attorney who specializes in such denials. Our firm, in fact, has successfully contested denials in autoerotic asphyxiation cases much like the ones discussed above. Call us today. We’re here to help.