Life Insurance Lawyer Washington

Whether you reside in: Bellingham; Kirkland; Spokane Valley; Yakima; Federal Way; Renton; Everett; Kent; Bellevue; Vancouver; Tacoma; Spokane or Seattle; our life insurance attorneys who live and work here in Washington are here to help resolve your delayed or denied life insurance claim.

Washington Denied Life Insurance Claims Recently Settled

  • Liberty Mutual interpleader case $513,000.00
  • West Coast alcohol exclusion claim $227,000.00
  • Prudential AD&D accidental death $348,000.00
  • ERISA appeal after great legal brief $190,000.00
  • Washington denied life insurance claim $3,067,750.00
  • SGLI dispute wife and ex-wife $400,000.00
  • Security Mutual beneficiary dispute $305,000.00
  • Gerber failure to accept policy premiums $170,000.00
  • Denied life insurance claim Washington $1,240,000.00
  • Prudential material misrepresentation application $330,000.00
  • FEGLI appeal of life benefits won $149,000.00
  • Washington bad faith life insurance $821,000.00
  • AIG accidental death claim won $514,000.00
  • Stonebridge contestability period medical records $130,000.00
  • Washington divorce and life insurance $757,000.00
  • Transamerica autoerotic asphyxiation death $426,000.00

Things you should always reveal to your life insurance company

Our firm specializes in helping people who have had life insurance claims wrongfully denied by insurance companies. Over the years, we’ve seen so many bogus denials from life insurers that we’ve grown suspicious of the majority of claim denial justifications that come across our desks. It is our greatest pleasure to help our clients contest and overcome those denials.

That said, as attorneys who focus almost exclusively on life insurance issues, we believe we can also assist people in making sure they take all the steps necessary to get and maintain valid policies that will pay beneficiaries as planned when the policyholder passes away. One of the ways we can do that is to educate consumers about the things they should always be honest about when applying for a life insurance policy.

We understand that at some level, some people are tempted to tell little white lies in their life insurance application. What we need to share with you, however, is that some of those mistruths can have major legal implications regarding the validity of your policy. That is because of a legal concept called “material misrepresentations.”

Basically, the law requires that the parties to a contract tell each other the truth about the subject of the contract during negotiations. In the life insurance context that means, among other things, that the policy applicant has to reveal to the insurance company any conditions that might cause the company to deny coverage or charge greater premiums. The failure to do so can be deemed a “material misrepresentation.” In the law, material misrepresentations are serious enough to relieve the party who was lied to of any obligations under the contract. For a life insurance company, that means they can use material misrepresentations to deny claims.

This article explores some of the more common things people lie about in life insurance applications that end up giving the insurance company an excuse to deny later claims. While each case is different and each one of these lies can be told with varying levels of consequences, the best strategy for any life insurance applicant is to simply tell the truth about these issues.

Major diseases

It should come as no surprise that life insurance companies want to know about an applicant’s disease history before they issue a policy or set a premium amount. The unfortunate truth is that a history of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease can make a person more likely to die at a younger age than his/her peers. Of course, life insurance companies make the most amount of money from policyholders who live a long life and pay premiums faithfully over the course of several years or decades.

Consequently, an applicant’s disease history is one of the most important things to the insurer. When an applicant fails to reveal a significant disease, obtains a policy based on that omission, and later dies of a cause related to that condition, the insurance company almost always seeks to avoid making a policy payout based on a material misrepresentation.

What many people do not know, however, is that the insurance company may be able to avoid its policy obligations even if the insured dies of a condition completely unrelated to the one he failed to reveal in his policy application. The insurer will argue that had it known the full truth about the applicant’s health, it never would have issued a policy in the first place and thus never would have had to make a policy payout at all. Depending on the significance of the underlying condition, this argument can be quite persuasive to courts.

Smoking

At this point in time, smoking is one of those habits that has an undeniable negative impact on a person’s health. People who smoke are more likely to contract lung cancer, lung disease, heart disease, asthma, and other serious conditions than those who don’t. Thus, life insurance companies take this inquiry very seriously.

If a person denies smoking in their application, is issued a policy, then dies of a smoking-related illness, the life insurer will often undertake an intense investigation into the person’s true history. They’ll even go so far as to scour a person’s social media history to look for pictures or other indications that the policyholder smoked. If they can find that evidence, you better believe they’ll deny any claim against that policy.

Dangerous hobbies

Another serious inquiry for life insurance companies has to do with the applicant’s hobbies. Certain activities, such as skydiving, SCUBA diving, motorcycle racing, or rock climbing, can be deemed so dangerous that the insurance company won’t issue a policy to regular participants. Knowing this, many thrill-seekers are tempted to lie in their policy applications or simple fail to disclose that they do one or more of these sports on a regular basis.

To the insurance company, that mistruth is no less material than the failure to reveal a physical disease or a history of smoking. Indeed, they frequently deny claims based on alleged material misrepresentations about these activities.

Denials made on this basis have a little more wiggle room when it comes to contesting the claim denial, however. For example, what if the policyholder never took up the dangerous sport until years after his policy was in place? What if he died the very first time he tried one of these activities? In those instances, there may still be room for the beneficiary to collect the benefit the policyholder intended.

Ultimately, if you have had a life insurance claim denied on any basis, you would do yourself a big favor if you simply called our firm to talk it over. The initial consultation is free and we’ll only encourage you to pursue the claim if we believe the denial was truly in error. We also won’t charge you a dime unless and until you get monetary recovery from the insurance company. The truth is, many claim denials are erroneous. Call us today. We’re here to help.

Washington 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 Washington can help, whether you are in: Seattle; Spokane; Tacoma; Vancouver; Bellevue; Kent; Everett; Renton; Federal Way; Yakima; Spokane Valley; Kirkland; Bellingham; or anywhere in the state of Washington, we will get you the benefits to which you are entitled.
Washington Life Insurance Law
Policies through work are governed under ERISA. The primary regulating force here in Washington is Title 48 Revised Code of Washington, and oversight is provided by the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
Most Common Reasons for a Denied Life Insurance Claim in Washington
  • 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.
Can life insurance companies sue plan beneficiaries?
They do – and when it happens you need an attorney
When most people think of lawsuits involving insurance companies, they may assume that all of those cases involve policyholders or beneficiaries who are suing the insurer for failing to provide policy coverage. Indeed, many people may presume that an insurance company would never have reason to sue its insured. Those people would be wrong.
To the contrary, life insurance companies sue policy beneficiaries all the time. Typically, they file suit asking the court to relieve them from their obligation to pay out policy benefits. As attorneys who specialize in representing beneficiaries who have been wronged by life insurance companies, we defend these cases all the time. In this article, we explore the primary reason why a life insurer would ever bother to sue a beneficiary.
The driving force of life insurers
Life insurance companies exist for the sole purpose of generating profits. They way they do that is simple. They collect premiums from policyholders based on the ostensible promise that when the policyholder dies, his beneficiaries will receive a set “death payout.”
At face value, this business model makes no sense. Given that everyone dies eventually, doesn’t that mean that life insurers have to pay out huge claims on every policy they issue? Not at all. To the contrary, life insurance companies spend enormous amounts of time and money coming up with ways to deny claims for death benefits, even for policyholders who have faithfully paid their premiums for decades.
When you think about it that way, the business model suddenly makes a lot of sense. If a life insurance company collects the greatest amount of premiums while simultaneously denying the greatest amount of claims, their profit margins go through the roof.
One of the ways they do this is to actually sue policy beneficiaries.
The lawsuit for rescission
Lawsuits against life insurance policy beneficiaries are typically grounded in a legal concept called rescission. Perhaps surprisingly, even though the beneficiary is the one being sued, these cases usually have nothing at all to do with anything the beneficiary did or did not do.
Rather, suits for rescission are all about the actions of the policyholder. Specifically, the life insurance company is claiming that: (a) it issued a policy based on representations about the policyholder’s health status that were made in his life insurance application; (b) when the policyholder died, it became clear that the policyholder lied about his health status; (c) if the insurance company had known the truth, it never would have issued a life insurance policy; and, therefore (d) the policy should be rescinded before the beneficiary ever makes a claim for benefits.
At first blush, these lawsuits seem fair and just. Why should the insurance company pay out on a policy that was based on lies? Realistically, these cases are rarely that cut-and-dried.
The unknown condition
In many cases, the policyholder’s medical condition was completely unknown to him at the time he applied for life insurance. The facts of a case out of Texas are illustrative of this point.
In that case, a man named Jim applied for a life insurance policy at the age of 48. As part of the application process, Jim was given a comprehensive questionnaire that asked about things like habits, lifestyle, current medical conditions, and mental health issues. Jim answered the questions honestly, to the best of his ability. In fact, Jim revealed to the life insurance company that he had been suffering from heart burn for about six months and that he had been taking over-the-counter medication to treat the condition.
Jim was issued a life insurance policy and paid his premiums faithfully. Seven months after receiving the policy, however, Jim passed away suddenly in his sleep. His family and friends were shocked. An autopsy revealed that Jim had advanced heart disease and had succumbed to a heart attack.
Jim’s wife Brenda planned to make a claim for death benefits against his life insurance policy once the initial shock and grief started to subside. Before she could do so, however, Jim’s life insurance company sued Brenda in an attempt to rescind Jim’s policy. In it, they claimed that Jim had fraudulently obtained the policy by failing to disclose his heart disease in the application process.
Brenda had never been involved in a lawsuit and didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, a friend recommended an attorney who specialized in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims. Together, they scoured Jim’s past medical records and were able to build a successful defense. The truth of the matter was, neither Jim nor any of his doctors ever suspected he had heart disease. In Jim’s case, the condition truly was a silent killer.
In light of this evidence, the court did not allow the life insurance company to rescind Jim’s policy. To the contrary, the company was order to pay the full death benefit to Brenda, with interest.
Get the help you need
Had Brenda not retained a specialized attorney, she may have never known that she could successfully defend the life insurance company’s lawsuit for rescission. Sadly, insurance companies are relying on the fact that most laypeople won’t find a lawyer to help defend their lawsuit. They know that beneficiaries are typically overwhelmed with grief and unable to take on a legal battle with a large insurance company.
That’s one of the reasons our firm specializes in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims – whether they come by way of a rescission lawsuit or by a straight-up claim denial letter. We battle these large companies day in and day out. We know the games they play and the tactics they deploy. We know how their lawyers operate and we’re not afraid to battle them head-on in court.
If you or a loved one is facing a rescission lawsuit from a life insurance company – or even if you’ve simply received a claim denial letter – call us today. We’re here to help.