Category: Life Insurance Claims

Post-Claim Underwriting in Life Insurance Explained

Life insurance companies commonly employ “post-claim underwriting” if a policyholder dies within the first two years of coverage. 

What is post-claim underwriting? Can life insurance companies use post-claim underwriting to deny my claim? How can a beneficiary contest a claim denied due to what the life insurance company discovered during post-claim underwriting?

Distinguished life insurance lawyer Chad G. Boonswang explains what post-claim underwriting is, how life insurance companies use post-claim underwriting to deny beneficiaries’ claims for material misrepresentation, and what to do if post-claim underwriting results in claim denial.

If the life insurance company won’t pay due to policy rescission for alleged misrepresentation, call us for help. Remember, life insurance companies only make money when they collect premiums and deny claims, so they take any opportunity to unfairly deny valid claims. Don’t take no for an answer! We have gotten many claims like this paid after we investigate. Call us today to discuss your claim.

What is Post-Claim Underwriting in Life Insurance?

“Underwriting” is the term used to describe the process by which a life insurance company calculates the risk an applicant for life insurance will die within the coverage term. Risk factors include medical history, current health, lifestyle habits, age, gender, weight, occupation, marital status, criminal history, and zip code. Those at greater risk of dying within the policy term pay more in premiums than those at less risk.

Under a life insurance policy’s incontestability clause, if a policyholder dies in the first two years of coverage the life insurance company has the right to look for false information on their application for life insurance and medical questionnaire. They look for this false information during the process of post-claim underwriting, which takes place after a policyholder dies and their beneficiaries submit their claim along with a copy of a death certificate.

If the life insurance company finds errors or omissions during post-claim underwriting, they rescind coverage for misrepresentation and deny claims for death benefits.

Is Post-Claim Underwriting Legal?

Technically, yes. Some laws have been passed in an attempt to stop it but the reality is that it still happens. State and federal law allow life insurance companies to employ post-claim underwriting to discover mistakes or omissions on a policyholder’s initial application for coverage. If they find false information or omissions, they rescind the policy and deny beneficiaries’ claims for death benefits.

This policy is meant to deter applicants for life insurance coverage from lying on their application to get lower premiums, but in practice, it results in many valid life insurance claims getting denied.

Post-Claim Underwriting in Life Insurance Claim Denials

During the contestability period, life insurance companies deny claims if the policyholder hid or falsified information on their initial application, even if that hidden or false information had nothing to do with the policyholder’s cause of death. 

Life insurance companies discover lies, mistakes, and omissions by performing post-claim underwriting, meaning that after a beneficiary files a claim they investigate the truth of the policyholder’s initial submissions. 

How Life Insurance Companies Do Post-Claim Underwriting

When a policyholder dies within the contestability period, the life insurance company reviews their application and medical questionnaire for any indication of misrepresentation. Often the information recorded on the death certificate reveals instances of misrepresentation, such as:

  • Failing to disclose smoking habit: dies of lung cancer from smoking
  • Failing to disclose heavy alcohol use: dies of cirrhosis of the liver
  • Fails to disclose dangerous sports: dies from a fall while rock climbing
  • Fails to disclose marijuana use: dies with marijuana in system
  • Fails to disclose high blood pressure: dies of heart attack or stroke
  • Lying about age: age younger on application than on death certificate
  • Lying about marital status: listed as “single” on death certificate

How to Protect Yourself Against Post-Claim Underwriting

An experienced life insurance attorney can help you get your payout in many instances of alleged misrepresentation. For example, the life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law have gotten beneficiaries paid on denied claims after we investigated and found:

  • the policyholder made an innocent mistake without the intent to defraud the life insurance company;
  • the policyholder was unaware of the underlying condition that caused their death;
  • the life insurance agent made the mistake or omitted information;
  • the life insurance company or agent failed to question further when there were clear indications of a health condition;
  • a question on the application or medical questionnaire was confusing or ambiguous.

In many cases, we get our client paid in full. In others, we are able to settle for the amount of the death benefit minus what the policyholder would have paid in premiums had the life insurance company written the policy knowing the policyholder’s true condition.

Talk with a Life Insurance Lawyer About Your Claim Denial

Unfortunately, many valid life insurance claims get denied due to alleged misrepresentation. Luckily, there is growing awareness of life insurance companies’ practice of denying claims when they find any indication of possible fraud during post-claim underwriting. 

If your life insurance claim was denied due to policy rescission after post-claim underwriting, call us today for your free, no-obligation case review. We  appeal your denied life insurance claim or sue the life insurance company and get you paid if at all possible.

Life Insurance Claims & Pending Death Certificates

Life insurance companies often delay payment on claims for death benefits if the policyholder’s cause of death is listed as “pending” on the death certificate. Is this legal?

The answer depends on how long the life insurance policy was in effect, what state law applies, and how long the delay is. Find out from leading life insurance lawyer Chad G. Boonswang how life insurance companies use death certificates, when life insurance companies delay a payout due to pending cause of death, and when beneficiaries might be entitled to interest on a delayed life insurance claim.

If your life insurance claim is delayed due to a pending cause of death or for any other reason, call the experienced life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law for help getting your payout. We take cases on a contingency basis, meaning, we do not get paid unless and until you do. Call today for your free, no-obligation case consultation.

How Death Certificates Interact with Life Insurance Claims

Life insurance companies confirm a policyholder’s death with a certified copy of a death certificate identifying the policyholder as deceased and providing other details such as when they died, where they died, and what caused their death.

A coroner or medical examiner lists the cause of death as “pending” if they have yet to ascertain the cause of death. Another reason for the cause of death to be recorded as pending is if law enforcement is investigating the death and that investigation is incomplete.

Can You Collect Life Insurance Without a Death Certificate?

No. Life insurance companies require legal proof the policyholder died to avoid fraudulent payouts, or paying death benefits when the policyholder faked their own death. In fact, when a policyholder dies overseas, a foreign death certificate may delay payment on a life insurance claim because it lacks the information given on U.S. death certificates and the life insurance company deems it insufficient proof of death.

Delays in Life Insurance Claims Payments Due to Pending Cause of Death

Life insurance companies may only delay payments on claims for death benefits if the delay is reasonable. What is “reasonable” depends upon the situation and the governing law. These are the situations where a pending cause of death may cause a delay in payment of claims.

The Policyholder Died within the Contestability Period

If the policyholder died within the first two years of life insurance coverage, the incontestability clause allows a life insurance company to look into the policyholder’s submissions on their initial application and medical questionnaire. If there were any omissions or misstatements, the life insurance company will rescind the policy due to the policyholder’s alleged misrepresentation and deny beneficiaries’ claims.

A Life Insurance Policy Exclusion May Apply

If the policyholder’s cause of death may have been excluded from life insurance coverage, the life insurance company may delay payments on claims for death benefits until the cause of death gets determined. 

A life insurance company denies claims for death benefits after delaying payment if the policyholder died due to any of these common policy exclusions:

Police are Investigating the Policyholder’s Death

If the policyholder’s cause of death is under investigation by law enforcement, the life insurance company may delay payment until the cause of death is determined and the beneficiaries are cleared of wrongdoing.

How a Life Insurance Lawyer Helps Your Claim

A life insurance lawyer helps beneficiaries get paid by investigating their claim, corresponding with the life insurance company, and suing the life insurance company if they won’t pay.

If your claim is delayed due to a pending cause of death or for any other reason, call us for help. If the delay is unreasonable, you may be entitled to interest on the amount of the death benefit. We’re happy to discuss your claim.

Life Insurance Payouts & Murder

Many causes of death are excluded from coverage in life insurance. Is murder one of them?

Acclaimed national life insurance attorney Chad G. Boonswang discusses what happens to the death benefit if the policyholder is murdered. Murder is not an exclusion, and what happens to the death benefit depends upon whether the beneficiaries have any involvement in the policyholder’s death.

If your life insurance claim gets denied or your payout is delayed because the policyholder was murdered, call Boonswang Law for help. We have helped life insurance beneficiaries across the nation get their payout after their claim got denied or delayed by filing a life insurance claim denial appeal, an interpleader action, or by suing the life insurance company

Does Life Insurance Pay If the Policyholder is Murdered?

Yes, as long as the person who murdered the policyholder is not the beneficiary. This is called the “Slayer Rule.” Under the Slayer Rule, no beneficiary can have anything to do with the policyholder’s death, such as hiring someone to murder the policyholder or murdering the policyholder when their beneficiary is their spouse or someone else close to them. 

The Slayer Rule is in place to keep beneficiaries from benefiting from having a hand in the policyholder’s death.

Accidental Death & Murder in Life Insurance

Accidental Death life insurance coverage, called an AD&D policy or an AD&D rider, covers the policyholder if they die for any reason other than natural causes such as disease or old age. Murder qualifies as accidental death for the purposes of AD&D coverage, and the beneficiaries should get the death benefit if the policyholder is murdered.

If your AD&D claim was denied because the policyholder was murdered, call us for help getting your Accidental Death & Dismemberment payout. We take life insurance cases on a contingency basis, meaning we do not get paid unless and until you do. Call us today for your free case review.

Reasons Life Insurance Benefits Get Denied for Murder Victims

Beneficiary or Beneficiaries Are Found Guilty of the Murder

If the beneficiary murdered the policyholder, they will not receive a payout under the Slayer Rule. This will likely be the case even if the death is ruled manslaughter instead of homicide, or the policyholder died due to the beneficiary’s self defense.

Policyholder is Murdered While Involved in Criminal Activity

If the policyholder is murdered while doing something illegal, their beneficiaries’ claims get denied. You may think of illegal acts as breaking and entering or assault, but life insurance companies also exclude deaths during minor infractions of the law from coverage. 

For example, if the policyholder was trespassing and is murdered, their beneficiaries’ claims get denied. If the policyholder was driving the wrong way down a one way street and murdered in a carjacking, their beneficiaries’ claims get denied. If the policyholder was high on an illicit drug and murdered, their beneficiaries’ claims get denied.

Life Insurance Fraud & Murder

If the beneficiary participated in a plot to kill the policyholder, even if they are not the person committing the act, they will not get a payout. If the policyholder conspires with their family to plot their own death, that is insurance fraud and their beneficiaries will not get a payout.

Reasons Life Insurance Benefits are Delayed if the Policyholder is Murdered

When a life insurance policyholder is murdered, the life insurance company waits until the police investigation is complete and exonerates the beneficiary or beneficiaries before paying death benefits. This can take months or even years. 

Life insurance companies must pay claims within a reasonable time. If the homicide investigation concludes, the life insurance company may owe you interest if they delay your payout further.

Talk with a Life Insurance Lawyer if Your Claim is Denied Due to Murder

If your claim gets denied due to the policyholder’s murder, you have a right to know why. The life insurance company must give you the basis for claim denial. You then have the right to appeal, file an interpleader action, or sue the insurance company.

If your claim is delayed by a murder investigation or if the life insurance company delays your payout unreasonably, you may be entitled to interest on the death benefit.

In either case, our life insurance lawyers help you get your payout. Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation.

3 small money bags in hand

The Incontestability Clause in Life Insurance Policies

You’ve probably heard of the Contestability Period, which is the two years following the purchase of life insurance during which a life insurance company can contest the beneficiary’s rights to the death benefit due to a misstatement or omission on a policyholder’s application for life insurance and medical questionnaire.

So what is an “incontestability clause?” Find out from the nation’s top life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law. And if your life insurance company denied your claim or rescinded your coverage due to an alleged misrepresentation by the policyholder, call us. We will discuss your case with you free of charge. Our life insurance lawyers have gotten countless clients paid when their claim was initially denied due to misrepresentation.

Incontestability Clause Definition

An “incontestability clause” in life insurance is a policy provision that disallows a life insurance company from voiding coverage due to a misstatement by the policyholder after a specified period of time has elapsed since the policyholder purchased life insurance. This period of time is usually two years, but may be more.

How an Incontestability Clause Benefits Policyholders

Most life insurance policies include an incontestability clause, which closes the door on the contestability period and prevents life insurance companies from denying beneficiaries’ claims due to a misstatement or omission on the policyholder’s initial application for life insurance and medical questionnaire.

The incontestability clause helps policyholders realize their goal in purchasing life insurance, which was to make sure their loved ones got a payout in the event of their death. It also protects beneficiaries from any mistakes or omissions in the policyholder’s application for life insurance and medical questionnaire.

Exceptions to an Incontestability Clause

Life Insurance Fraud

If a policyholder fraudulently completed their initial application for life insurance and medical questionnaire, the incontestability clause will not protect them or their beneficiaries. 

For example, if the policyholder intentionally lied about having a smoking habit and dies within the contestability period, the life insurance company will rescind the policy and beneficiaries’ claims for the death benefit. If the policyholder dies after the contestability period, when the incontestability clause is in effect, the life insurance company will still deny beneficiaries’ claims.

The definition of life insurance fraud varies from state-to-state. In many states, the life insurance company must show that the policyholder intended to deceive. The life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law have over 30 years of combined experience helping life insurance beneficiaries get what they deserve in every state in the country. Call us for help if your claim was denied due to alleged fraud or misrepresentation.

Misstating Age or Gender

In some states, when the policyholder mistakenly recorded their age or gender on their initial application for life insurance, the life insurance company cannot void coverage. Instead, they must subtract what they would have been paid in premiums from the death benefit, and pay the death benefit to the beneficiary.

Purchasing Life Insurance When Deathly Ill

As a matter of public policy and to protect consumers from high premiums, life insurance companies are allowed to deny claims for death benefits during the first two years or coverage, called the contestability period, when the policyholder makes a misstatement or omits information on their initial application for life insurance and medical questionnaire.

The contestability period protects life insurance companies from having to pay death benefits when the policyholder was so ill when they applied for life insurance that they died shortly thereafter. It is this type of scenario, along with policyholders contemplating ending their own lives, that the contestability period was intended to cover.

Tolling the Contestabilty Period

If the policyholder becomes disabled shortly after purchasing life insurance coverage and within the contestability period, the contestability period is “tolled” or continued and an incontestability clause will not take effect.

Talk with an Experienced Life Insurance Lawyer

If your claim for death benefits was denied due to death within the contestability period or death under the incontestability clause but the policy was rescinded due to fraud or misrepresentation, call us for help getting your payout. We have helped life insurance beneficiaries across the nation get the payout their loved one intended.

In some cases, the policyholder may have made a minor mistake and you can get the death benefit minus what the policyholder would have paid in premiums had they not made that mistake. In other cases, the policyholder did not make the alleged mistake or omission with the intent to defraud, such as when the policyholder does not disclose a medical condition they did not know they had.

In more cases than not, we are able to get our beneficiary clients paid when their claim for death benefits was initially denied due to death within the contestability period or death thereafter when the policyholder allegedly committed fraud. We only take cases on a contingency basis, meaning that we do not get paid unless and until you do. Call us for help – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Insurance claim denied graphic

The Grace Period for Life Insurance Policies

The Grace Period for Life Insurance Policies

Both policyholders and life insurance beneficiaries should know what the grace period is for making premium payments on a life insurance policy. Life insurance companies frequently make administrative mistakes and let policies lapse while still in the grace period. In these instances, coverage should remain in effect and the life insurance company should pay beneficiaries’ claims for the death benefit.

If your claim was denied due to policy lapse or termination, call us. Our life insurance lawyers investigate and find out whether the grace period was in effect and whether coverage remained in place at the policyholder’s death. Let us help you get paid.

What is the Grace Period on a Life Insurance Policy?

The life insurance “grace period” is the time following the premium due date that the policyholder has to pay the premium without negative consequences. Generally, the grace period will be 30 or 31 days following the premium due date, but this is specified in the policy documents for each life insurance policy.

Life insurance is highly regulated under state and federal ERISA law. Life insurance companies are required to provide a grace period for premium payments and to send notices regarding past-due premium payments to the policyholder. If the life insurance did not apply the grace period or cannot show that they sent the required notices to the policyholder, the lapse of the policy can be overturned.

What Happens When a Life Insurance Policy Lapses

If a life insurance policy lapses, life insurance coverage ends. This means that if a policyholder dies after their policy lapsed, the life insurance company will deny their beneficiaries’ claims because there is no coverage.

Life Insurance Denials Due to Lapse

Lapse is one of the most common reasons for life insurance claim denial. Unfortunately, life insurance companies often let policies lapse incorrectly, either by not applying the grace period for premium payments, not sending the required past-due notices or lapse notices, or not applying the disability waiver of premium. 

In the case of employer-provided group life insurance, often employers do not administer the policy correctly and fail to give employees the forms to convert group coverage to individual coverage, or fail to process those forms. 

Identifying Mistakes in a Lapsed Policy

Unfortunately, many life insurance policies lapse due to no fault of the policyholder. In cases where mistakes cause life insurance coverage lapse, we can often get our beneficiary clients paid when we appeal the life insurance claim denial.

If your claim was denied due to lapse, first, determine whether the life insurance policy was a group life insurance policy or an individual policy. Most individual policies are governed by state law, while group life insurance policies through an employer are governed by federal ERISA law.

In either case, a grace period applies to past-due premium payments. If the life insurance company allowed the policy to lapse during the grace period, the beneficiary on the lapsed policy can still get paid. Similarly, if the policyholder made a premium payment within the grace period but the life insurance company did not correctly apply that payment to their account, the beneficiary can still get paid. If the policyholder had flexible or vanishing premium payments and the life insurance company failed to administer that, the beneficiary can still get paid.

If the life insurance company cannot show that it sent the policyholder the required notices of past-due premium payments and notice of lapse, the beneficiary may still get paid. We had a case where the policyholder was in the hospital, not receiving their mail, the policy lapsed, and they died. We were able to get that beneficiary paid. 

If the policyholder was eligible for disability waiver of premium payments and the policy lapsed due to non-payment, their beneficiaries may still get paid. We have had many cases like this and have gotten our beneficiary clients paid.

If an employer failed to give a separating employer the forms to convert group life insurance coverage to an individual policy, or failed to correctly process those forms causing coverage to lapse, the beneficiaries may still get paid. Again, we have had many cases where employers improperly administer coverage conversion causing policy lapse, and we have gotten our beneficiary clients paid.

Talk with a Life Insurance Lawyer if Your Claim Was Denied Due to Lapse

Don’t take no for an answer if the life insurance company denied your claim due to lapse. Keep in mind that life insurance companies are for-profit companies, and they only make money when they collect premiums and deny or delay paying beneficiaries’ claims. For this reason they have little incentive to avoid making mistakes or to check for mistakes in denying beneficiaries’ claims.


Let us check for mistakes for you. We thoroughly investigate each claim, and if the lapse in coverage was not the policyholder’s fault, we can get you paid. We take cases on contingency only to minimize costs to you, and we only get paid if you do. Call us to discuss your case, free of charge.

Life insurance lawyer meeting with client

Does a Will Supersede a Beneficiary Designation in Your Life Insurance Policy?

Both a will and life insurance transfer assets to the people the decedent designates. That said, they work in different ways and different laws govern each. This article outlines how one affects the other and whether a will supersedes a beneficiary designation in a life insurance policy.

If you are a life insurance beneficiary having trouble getting the payout due to contrary will bequests or a life insurance beneficiary dispute, call the experienced life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law. We have helped life insurance beneficiaries across the nation get the money their loved one intended they recieve. 

A Beneficiary Designation Overrides a Will

In short, whomever the policyholder designates as the beneficiary or beneficiaries to their life insurance death benefit gets that money regardless of who the policyholder named in their will. This is true even if a bequest in the will specifically contradicts the life insurance beneficiary designation.

In short, a will does not supersede or override a beneficiary designation. Whomever you designate as a beneficiary in your life insurance policy usually receives the death benefit.

Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation vs. a Will

What a Life Insurance Beneficiary Is

Life insurance is a contract between the policyholder and the life insurance company. In exchange for the policyholder’s premium payments, the life insurance company pays the  policyholder’s designated beneficiaries the death benefit if the policyholder dies within the coverage term. 

A policyholder may name whomever they wish as a beneficiary and may change the beneficiary designation at any time. They may even change the life insurance beneficiary just before they die. A policyholder may also name multiple primary beneficiaries as well as secondary, or contingent beneficiaries.

Life insurance is governed by state law unless it is group life insurance through an employer, which is governed by federal ERISA law. While a life insurance beneficiary designation cannot be changed after the policyholder’s death, these laws may override a beneficiary designation in a revocation-upon-divorce state. As such, a spouse or ex-spouse who is not a named beneficiary may be entitled to some or all of the death benefit in a community property state such as California or Texas.

Distributing Assets Through Will Bequests

A will is governed by state law and is only binding if it was created in compliance with those laws. In a will, someone dictates who gets their assets upon their death, whether those assets are personal belongings, real estate, bank accounts, or stocks and other investments.

Someone may make will bequests to anyone they wish, and a valid will cannot change after the decedent’s death.

Avoiding Life Insurance Beneficiary Mistakes

You’ve paid premiums all this time, now make sure the death benefit goes to the people you intend.

Name Multiple Beneficiaries

You can name multiple primary life insurance beneficiaries, or a primary life insurance beneficiary and contingent or secondary beneficiaries who receive the death benefit if the primary beneficiary predeceases you.

Keep Your Beneficiary Designations Updated

If a major life event occurs, such as marriage, a child being born, divorce, or a beneficiary has died, be sure to update your beneficiary designation accordingly. Be aware that in some cases, a divorce decree overrides a beneficiary designation, and if you live in a community property state, your life insurance policy may be a marital asset and your spouse or ex-spouse may be entitled to some or all of the death benefit.

What happens when life insurance has no beneficiary? The policy pays out to the policyholder’s estate.

Don’t Designate Your Estate as Your Beneficiary

If you designate your estate as your beneficiary, your heirs will not receive the death benefit until your estate goes through probate and “settles.” This means all of your assets are identified and all of your outstanding debts are paid. Because assets in your estate are subject to the claims of your creditors, your heirs may not receive the whole amount of the death benefit.

Do You Need Both Life Insurance & a Will?

You need life insurance if someone depends upon you financially, such as a spouse or a child with special needs, or if you have debt that must be paid upon your death, such as a mortgage or a personal guarantee on a business loan. 

You need a will if you have assets, money or otherwise, you want passed to specific people or organizations upon your death.

Most people need or want a will, and many people need or want both a will and life insurance.

Talk with a Life Insurance Lawyer About a Contested Beneficiary

When someone dies, their loved ones must locate their will and their life insurance policy, find the executor if there is a will, and find the beneficiaries if there is life insurance – all while grieving their loss. If there are conflicting life insurance beneficiary designations and will bequests, a beneficiary dispute only makes things more difficult for the bereaved.
Talk with the experienced life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law if you find yourself in a beneficiary dispute, or if you believe you should be a designated beneficiary but were not named. We discuss your case with you free of charge, and we only take cases on a contingency basis, meaning we do not get paid unless and until you do. Call today.

Can You Sue for Life Insurance Proceeds?

Interpleader Action in Life Insurance Lawsuits

Life insurance interpleaders are the legal actions filed when there is a dispute over who should be the beneficiary and receive the death benefit. 

Have you been served with an interpleader complaint? If not, do you think you should be a life insurance beneficiary, but the policyholder did not name you? Were or are you married to the policyholder? Was the policy group life insurance from the policyholder’s employer? Did the beneficiary designation change just before the policyholder’s death?

In any of these cases, you may be a party to a beneficiary dispute and you may be entitled to a payout. Call the experienced life insurance lawyers at Boonswang law for help investigating your claim, navigating the complex web of state and federal law that applies, and preparing your case. We have worked with clients across the nation and helped them get their death benefits, and we do not get paid unless and until you do. Call now to discuss your case, free of charge.

Interpleader Definition

What is an interpleader action? An interpleader is the way a holder of property that is the subject of ownership dispute initiates a lawsuit to settle that dispute.

In life insurance, an interpleader is initiated by the life insurance company when someone disputes the beneficiary designation. The life insurance beneficiary dispute is settled in that lawsuit, and the life insurance company pays the death benefit to the prevailing party.

Common Times When an Interpleader Actions Happen

Divorce

If the policyholder was divorced, both their spouse and ex-spouse may have a claim to some or all of the death benefit even if they are not the named beneficiary on the policy.

Is This a Revocation-Upon-Divorce State?

If so, and the former spouse of the policyholder was named as the beneficiary to the policyholder’s life insurance policy, they were automatically removed from the policy under the state’s life insurance revocation-upon-divorce statute. However, they may have a valid claim to the death benefits under the following four scenarios.

Was the Life Insurance Policy a Benefit of Employment?

If group life insurance coverage was a benefit of the policyholder’s employment, then federal ERISA law applies. ERISA overrides a state’s revocation upon divorce statute, so if an ex-spouse remains the named beneficiary upon the policyholder’s death, they have a claim to the death benefit.

Is This Life Insurance Dispute in a Community Property State?

When a life insurance policy is governed by the laws of one of the nine community property states, such as California and Texas, if the policyholder paid life insurance premiums with community property (money earned during the marriage) that spouse or ex-spouse may have a valid claim to some of the death benefit. 

In any state, if life insurance is considered a marital asset, the spouse or ex-spouse almost always has a valid claim.

Was There an Irrevocable Beneficiary?

An irrevocable beneficiary designation in life insurance cannot change without the knowledge and consent of that beneficiary. If the beneficiary designation changes without that knowledge or consent, the former beneficiary has a claim to the death benefit.

Was There Court Ordered Life Insurance Coverage?

In many cases where the policyholder is a support obligor, a family law judge will often order that they maintain life insurance coverage to insure the income stream for the support obligees. If that policyholder names other parties as beneficiaries, the support obligees may have a claim to some or all of the death benefits.

A Policy Names No Beneficiary

If the beneficiary designation is invalid, as when an ex-spouse is named as the life insurance beneficiary in a revocation-upon-divorce state, other potential beneficiaries may step forward to claim the death benefits. If there is no other beneficiary named or anyone with a valid claim, the death benefits may pay out to the policyholder’s estate and go through probate.

If the primary beneficiary of a life insurance policy died before the policyholder, and the policyholder failed to name secondary or contingent beneficiaries, the death benefits may pay to the policyholder’s estate.

Potentially Fraudulent Beneficiary Changes

If a life insurance beneficiary was changed at the last minute, it may have been done fraudulently, under duress, or when the policyholder did not have the mental capacity to make that change. In that case, the formerly-named beneficiary may have grounds for a beneficiary dispute.

Interpleader Laws Vary By State

If a life insurance beneficiary dispute interpleader is filed in state court, that state’s laws govern the matter. The outcome of the interpleader may very well depend upon whether that state has a certain type of law or not.

States vary as to whether they have a revocation-upon-divorce statute, in their legal definition of fraud, and in how property is divided upon divorce. If you are involved in a life insurance interpleader filed in state court, be sure to retain a life insurance attorney with experience practicing under the law in your state.

The Federal Courts May Have Jurisdiction Over a Life Insurance Interpleaders

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 22 allows an interpleader action to be filed in federal court if the court has subject matter jurisdiction over the case.

What is “subject matter jurisdiction?” A federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over a case when it involves a federal question, meaning, federal law governs the case. The federal court may also have “diversity jurisdiction” if the parties involved are citizens of different states or countries, or if the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 

If the life insurance policy in dispute was issued through the policyholder’s employer, it is governed by federal ERISA law and a beneficiary dispute interpleader may be filed in federal court. Some life insurance policies issued to federal government workers may also be under the federal court’s jurisdiction.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs in a Life Insurance Interpleader

In many cases the court will grant the life insurance company attorney’s fees and court costs in an interpleader, which will be taken from the death benefit in dispute. These fees and costs can be significant in complex cases. An experienced life insurance lawyer helps negotiate and streamline the process to minimize that loss.

Making a Competing Claim in an Interpleader Action

If you’ve been served with a complaint for interpleader by the life insurance company, this means that the life insurance company believes you may have a claim to the death benefits in dispute. You must file an answer within the time allotted, which is 21 days if the complaint is filed in federal court. If filed in state court, that state’s laws will govern.

How a Life Insurance Lawyer Helps

Often many thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, are at stake in a life insurance interpleader. If you are a party to a life insurance beneficiary dispute or believe you should be a life insurance beneficiary but were not named, you may be entitled to a life-changing amount of money.
Don’t risk losing that money due to inexperience or missing important court deadlines. Our experienced life insurance lawyers have worked with clients across the nation and have gotten our clients what they deserve. Call us today to discuss your case, free of charge.

smoke

Denied Life Insurance Claims Due to Marijuana Use

Most life insurance policies exclude death related to illicit drug use from coverage and deny beneficiaries’ claims if the policyholder died from drug overdose. 

What about medicinal marijuana use? What about recreational use of marijuana in states where that is legal? 

Find out from noted life insurance lawyer Chad G. Boonswang, Esquire what happens when a policyholder dies with marijuana in their system, what a life insurance company considers in deciding to pay or deny a claim for death benefits, what a policyholder must do if they use marijuana, and what to do if your life insurance claim was denied due to marijuana use.

If your life insurance claim was denied due to marijuana use, call the life insurance lawyers at Boonswang Law. We can help!

Drug Exclusions

Death from drug overdose is a common exclusion from life insurance coverage. Life insurance companies will deny beneficiaries’ claims for death benefits if the policyholder death was drug-related.

Marijuana is considered a drug, but how life insurance companies treat marijuana use depends upon the following factors:

  • Is recreational use of marijuana legal in that state?
  • If not, is marijuana use legal only if prescribed in that state?
  • If so, did the policyholder hold a prescription for medical marijuana?
  • Did the policyholder disclose recreational or medicinal marijuana use on their initial application and medical questionnaire?
  • Did the policyholder die within the contestability period?

If the policyholder had group life insurance coverage through their employer, federal ERISA law will apply. Know that federal law does not yet recognize legal cannabis use of any kind. 

If the policyholder died within the contestability period, the life insurance company has the power to comb through their initial application and medical questionnaire for inconsistencies. If they find any (i.e., if the policyholder did not disclose marijuana use), the life insurance company has the power to deny their beneficiaries claims – even if the marijuana use had nothing to do with the policyholder’s death.

Life Insurance Coverage Denials Due to Marijuana Use

If recreational use of marijuana use is still illegal in your state, or the policyholder did not have a prescription for medicinal use, the life insurance company will consider the policyholder’s use of marijuana as use of an illicit drug. 

Know that even if the policyholder’s death had nothing to do with marijuana, if marijuana was in their system, the life insurance company will deny beneficiaries’ claims outright during the two-year contestability period. 

Material Misrepresentation for Marijuana Use

Even if the two-year contestability period has expired, life insurance companies deny beneficiaries’ claims for material misrepresentation if the policyholder did not disclose marijuana use on their initial application and medical questionnaire.

What To Do If Your Claim Denied Due to Marijuana Use

If your life insurance claim was denied due to marjuana, do not take no for an answer. An experienced life insurance lawyer will fight for you and help you appeal the life insurance claim denial.

First, your life insurance lawyer investigates and finds out whether the marijuana use had anything to do with the cause of death. Next, your lawyer uses that information plus whether or not the policyholder’s marijuana use was legal to negotiate with the life insurance company. You may be entitled to a payout in the amount of the death benefit minus what the policyholder would have paid in premiums had the life insurance company known of the marijuana use.

Applying for Life Insurance

It is crucial that policyholders disclose recreational or medicinal marijuana use to the life insurance company. This way, the life insurance company views marijuana as a lifestyle choice or prescription drug, not as an illicit drug.

If you are a policyholder using marijuana medicinally, tell your life insurance company so that your beneficiaries’ claims will not be denied for drug use. If you are a beneficiary to a policy owned by someone using marijuana medicinally, advise them to disclose their marijuana use to their insurance company so that they are not paying premiums all those years only to have your claim denied.

Talk with a Life Insurance Lawyer

If your life insurance claim was denied due to marijuana, call our experienced life insurance lawyers for help. The law governing marijuana use is complex and how it interplays with the various state laws and federal ERISA law is still evolving. 

We stay on top of current marijuana law and how life insurance companies can treat marijuana use and can help you get your payout if at all possible. Call us now to discuss your case, free of charge.

A Guide to Handling Your Life Insurance Claim Denial Appeal

Life Insurance Claim Denial Appeal

Can you appeal a life insurance claim denial? Yes!

Are you a life insurance beneficiary whose claim was denied? This article will explain exactly what to do if your claim for death benefits was denied, how to appeal insurance claim denial, and how to win an insurance appeal. Don’t take no for an answer! 

If your life insurance claim was denied, our life insurance lawyers can help you. We’ve helped beneficiaries around the country get their life insurance payout after their claim for death benefits was initially denied. Call us for your free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our life insurance attorneys work on contingency, which means we don’t get paid unless you do. 

The Typical Life Insurance Claim Process

A loved one dies and you discover you’ve been named as a beneficiary to a life insurance policy. You go online, complete the claim form, and within 30 days the life insurance company will notify you that they either approve and will pay your claim, deny and will not payout, or that one of the many reasons a life insurance claim is delayed applies. 

What to Do if Your Life Insurance Claim is Delayed

A claim may be delayed for any number of reasons the life insurance company require further investigation, including:

If your claim is delayed, you need the help of an experienced life insurance lawyer to get your payout. Insurance companies only make money for their shareholders when they don’t pay claims or delay paying claims, so they have little incentive to pay you or pay you timely. So-called “investigations” into the death of the insured can take months or even years. Don’t be a victim of the life insurance company! Call us for your free evaluation.

Why Do Life Insurance Companies Deny Claims?

There are many reasons a life insurance company claim is denied, including:

If your life insurance claim was denied, you are afforded the opportunity to appeal life insurance claim denial. Here’s how.

How to Appeal in the Case of Life Insurance Claim Denial

When you receive the life insurance claim denial letter from the life insurance company, read it carefully. Does it provide a clear reason for the claim denial? If not, call or email them for an explanation. They must provide one. If an appeal form was not included with your denial letter, ask to be sent that form or where the form is located online.

How to Write an Life Insurance Appeal Letter

Wondering how to write an appeal letter to the insurance company? You will need to include the policy number, the full name and address of the insured, the date of death, and attach a death certificate. You will also need documents to support your assertion that your claim should be paid.  The best way, however, is to contact a lawyer at Boonswang Law to help you with your appeal.  They take care of all the intricacies involving the appeal for you.

An insurance claim appeal is a legal process. There are procedural requirements and deadlines, and these vary by state and by policy. If you try to appeal on your own and make a mistake, that may affect what a life insurance lawyer can do for you thereafter.

What you should do is get the help of an experienced life insurance attorney as soon as you get your denial letter. Our life insurance attorneys are the best in the country and handle all of the paperwork, forms, and documentation, investigate the denial, and make sure you present your best case. We have gotten beneficiaries paid nationwide and are familiar with the life insurance laws in every state as well as the policies of every life insurance company. Put our experience to work for you so you have the best chance of getting a payout.

The Process of Appealing a Denied Employer Group Life Insurance Claim

Appeal of a claim denial of employer-provided group life insurance is governed by the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, known as ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001-1461. This statute supplies, among other things, the procedure for appealing a life insurance claim denial. 

You must file what is called an “administrative appeal” within a certain period following the life insurance claim denial letter. If that administrative appeal fails, you will have the opportunity to litigate in court, but the information and documents you submit in the administrative appeal will be relied upon by the court.

For this reason, it is essential to thoroughly investigate and perform legal research on the merits of your claim prior to the administrative appeal, again, to give you the best chance of overturning the claim denial.  Most importantly, call Boonswang Law to assist you with your ERISA appeal.  It is vital that the appeal be performed properly in order that your rights are protected at all times.

Our experienced ERISA attorneys can help get your life insurance claim paid upon an administrative appeal and are prepared to litigate for you if the administrative appeal is unsuccessful.

Our Life Insurance Beneficiary Attorneys Can Help You Appeal Your Denied Life Insurance Claim

If you feel your life insurance claim was unfairly delayed or denied, call us. We will thoroughly review your case free of charge, and if we decide to take your case, know that we expect to win!

Insurance claim denied graphic

Autoerotic Asphyxiation Life Insurance Claim Denied

Sometimes the way a loved one dies exacerbates the grief of friends and family members. Autoerotic asphyxiation can be one of those causes of death, but life insurance beneficiaries often have more problems to deal with than their embarrassment or shame when an insured dies that way. 

Was your life insurance claim denied when the insured died of autoerotic asphyxiation? Our life insurance attorneys can help. We’ve investigated these types of life insurance claims and helped beneficiaries in your circumstances appeal life insurance claim denial and get their life insurance payout. Let us help you during this difficult time.

Death by Autoerotic Asphyxiation Can Look Like Suicide

Because autoerotic asphyxiation involves strangling oneself, the circumstances of the death give the life insurance company the opportunity to deny a life insurance claim due to suicide

A life insurance company can deny a claim for death benefits due to suicide if the insured allegedly committed suicide during the contestability period or if suicide is expressly excluded from coverage in the life insurance policy.

Case study: we got our client beneficiary paid when the insured died of autoerotic asphyxiation. The insured was found in his hotel room, and the life insurance company denied the claim for death benefits, alleging the insured committed suicide. We investigated and were able to show that the insured intended to survive, as he had laid out his clothing for the next day.

Death by Autoerotic Asphyxiation During the Contestability Period

The life insurance contestability period is the two years following the purchase of a life insurance policy. During that period, the life insurance company has heightened power to deny claims for death benefits due to any errors or misrepresentation on the life insurance application, or if the insured allegedly committed suicide, even if the policy does not contain a suicide exclusion.

We have gotten beneficiaries paid when their claim was denied due to death during the contestability period, especially when the alleged misrepresentation had nothing to do with the cause of death. Call us for your free case evaluation.

Death by Autoerotic Asphyxiation When Suicide is an Exclusion

Every life insurance policy has “exclusions” that provide which causes of death are not covered by the policy. Typical exclusions are death by Act of War or Terrorism, suicide, and death while engaging in sports or activities that the life insurance company considers dangerous.

Death by autoerotic asphyxiation is usually an accident. We will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the death of the insured and if we can show the death was accidental and not suicide, you will get your payout.

What is Autoerotic Asphyxiation?

Autoerotic asphyxiation is achieved when someone masturbates while cutting off oxygen to their brain, commonly using a noose around their neck, to enhance an orgasm. When the person passes out from lack of oxygen, they release their grip on the noose and it loosens, allowing them to breathe normally. Sometimes the noose fails to loosen and the person dies accidentally. 

What is Erotic Asphyxiation?

Erotic asphyxiation is the same practice as autoerotic asphyxiation but the choking is done by someone to their partner. That other person can be choking their partner manually or employing a noose. One would think that this would be a safer practice than autoerotic asphyxiation because one partner remains conscious and can ensure that the choked partner regains consciousness.  Sometimes, however, things go wrong and people die.

In these cases, if the insured dies of erotic asphyxiation, the life insurance company will likely delay paying the life insurance claim to investigate for homicide, especially if the insured’s partner was the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. This is especially the case if the insured’s partner is suspected of murder, accused of murder, or indicted for murder. 

Was your life insurance claim denied due to death by erotic asphyxiation? Call us for your free, no-obligation consultation. We help beneficiaries get paid.

Lawyer to Help with Life Insurance Claim Denied Autoerotic Asphyxiation

Most death by autoerotic asphyxiation is accidental, but life insurance companies will invariably take advantage of the opportunity to deny or delay your claim for death benefits, hoping you will be too embarrassed to fight back.

Don’t take no for an answer! Call us for your case evaluation and find out whether you can get your life insurance payout.

Call Us Now
Email Us Now