Agents, Brokers and Rescission of Insurance Policies

Posted in: Accidental Death or Dismemberment, Agent/Broker, Disability Insurance News, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance April 09, 2018

Generally, an insurer need not investigate statements made in an application for insurance, subject to certain exceptions. Instead, the potential policyholder or applicant must fully disclose all known material information. If a potential insured does not correctly disclose information on an application (even innocently), the insurer may later try to rescind the insurance policy. When an insurer “rescinds” a policy, it renders the contract as if it never existed and frees both parties from their obligations under the contract. Practically, this means that the insurance company is no longer obligated to pay the claims for life insurance, accident insurance, health insurance, long-term care insurance or long-term disability insurance benefits and the policyholder no longer has to pay the policy’s premiums. …

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How to Fight ERISA Long-Term Disability Claims Denials: The Use of Personal Statements

Posted in: Benefits, Disability Insurance News, ERISA April 02, 2018

Pain is a highly subjective, personal phenomenon. Only the person suffering from pain can adequately describe that pain and how that person is affected by the pain. And we know that one person may be capable of tolerating a completely different threshold of pain when compared to another person. Similarly, reports of fatigue vary widely from person to person. Because of the nature of pain, fatigue and other such disabling symptoms, determining whether subjective complaints render an individual disabled for the purposes of long-term disability benefits necessarily relies on the individual claimant’s personal statement/description. Put another way, the individual must explain what he or she goes through firsthand. Not only does this aid in the insurer’s understanding of the insured’s …

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How to Fight ERISA Long-Term Disability Claims Denials: The Use of Personal Statements

Posted in: Benefits, Disability Insurance News, ERISA February 26, 2018

Pain is a highly subjective, personal phenomenon. Only the person suffering from pain can adequately describe that pain and how that person is affected by the pain. And we know that one person may be capable of tolerating a completely different threshold of pain when compared to another person. Similarly, reports of fatigue vary widely from person to person. Because of the nature of pain, fatigue and other such disabling symptoms, determining whether subjective complaints render an individual disabled for the purposes of long-term disability benefits necessarily relies on the individual claimant’s personal statement/description. Put another way, the individual must explain what he or she goes through firsthand. Not only does this aid in the insurer’s understanding of the insured’s …

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Bad Faith Claims Handling: California Department of Insurance Investigates Aetna’s Health Claim Denials

Posted in: Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Health Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, Legal Articles February 21, 2018

On our blog, we frequently discuss the improper tactics insurers use to deny legitimate claims for life, health, disability and other forms of insurance. For our latest article on the pervasive problem in health insurance claims denials, see https://www.mslawllp.com/la-times-report-pervasive-problem-of-improper-health-insurance-denials/. Mckennon Law Group PC has had much experience litigating against health insurers who deny legitimate medical claims. We know this is a rampant problem. So, it was not shocking to us that at least one very large health insurer, Aetna, took highly improper actions to deny medical insurance claims.

On February 12, 2018, the California Department of Insurance (“CDI”) issued a press release confirming its investigation of Aetna, one of the largest health insurance providers in the U.S. California Insurance …

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LA Times Report: Pervasive Problem of Improper Health Insurance Denials

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, Health Insurance, Legal Articles February 03, 2018

After using a diabetes insulin pump for nine years, David Lazarus suddenly received a denial letter from his insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. The denial letter notified Lazarus that his employer’s health plan would no longer cover the cost of his diabetes insulin pump. He was now responsible for the cost of the pump: $8,703. The reason cited for his insurer’s sudden change of heart? Lack of medical necessity. His medical insurance claim was denied.

An insurer may deny a medical insurance claim before or after the medical service sought to be covered, either through the denial of preauthorization requests or denial of claims for payment after the medical service is provided. Some insurers require preauthorization requests before …

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Court Rejects Third Party Administrator's Demurrer to Insurance Bad Faith Claim Based on Plaintiffs' Theory of Joint Venture Liability

Posted in: Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Non-ERISA January 24, 2018

Implied in every insurance contract is a promise of “good faith and fair dealing,” which means that the insurer must not take unreasonable steps to prevent an insured’s right to receive benefits under the policy. To comply with its promise to act in good faith, the insurer must adhere to certain duties, such as the duty to adequately investigate a claim made by an insured. An insurer acts in bad faith when it fails to meet those duties unreasonably and without proper cause. Determining whether there has been bad faith conduct is important, in part, because it directly affects the insured’s potential recovery. If the insurer is found to have acted in bad faith, the insured may have access to …

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Exceptions to the Exhaustion Requirement: When is an Appeal Futile Under ERISA?

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, ERISA January 17, 2018

If an insurer recently denied your claim, do not ignore the appeal requirements stated in the denial letter or you may lose the right to pursue your benefits. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, protects most employee benefits, such as life insurance benefits, long-term disability income insurance benefits, accidental death and dismemberment insurance benefits and other such benefits offered through employer-sponsored plans. ERISA does so by establishing certain internal claims handling procedures, often referred to as “administrative remedies.” These administrative remedies govern the claims handling process when an administrator determines a plan participant’s eligibility for benefits. Although each employer-sponsored plan has different requirements, most contain provisions that require a plan participant to exhaust at least one …

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Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies in ERISA: The Potential Death Knell of a Disability, Life or Health Insurance Claim

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation January 06, 2018

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, establishes protections for most employee benefits offered through employer-sponsored benefit plans. ERISA requires that the plan and claims administrators adhere to certain internal procedures, often referred to as “administrative remedies,” when determining a plan participant’s eligibility for benefits. Typically, these administrative remedies include internal appeals directly to the insurer or claims administrator. Although each individual plan is different, most plans require at least one level of internal appeal, which you would have to “exhaust” before you can file a lawsuit. However, some plans require that an employee exhaust two levels of internal appeals before he or she can file suit.

Whether it is one or two levels of appeal, exhausting …

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Cohorst v. Anthem: When Does Waiver Apply under ERISA?

Posted in: Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation December 26, 2017

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, governs most employer-sponsored benefit plans.  ERISA establishes protections for employees in the administration of their employer-sponsored benefits, requiring that the administrator adhere to certain requirements when determining a plan participant’s eligibility for benefits.  In ERISA cases, typically the plan’s terms govern.  However, ERISA does recognize certain “equitable” doctrines for situations not necessarily covered by the terms of the employer-sponsored plan.  One of those equitable doctrines is “waiver,” which the courts have established as the intentional relinquishment of a right under the plan.  In this article, we address Cohorst v. Anthem, No. CV 16-7925-JFW (SKX), 2017 WL 6343592 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 12, 2017), a recent decision from the Central District …

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When the Clock is Ticking: The Interplay of the Contractual Limitations Period and the Statute of Limitations in a Disability Insurance Case

Posted in: Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Policy Interpretation, Statute of Limitations December 26, 2017

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, otherwise known as ERISA, governs most employer-sponsored benefit plans, including short and long-term disability benefits, life benefits, accidental death and dismemberment benefits and others.  ERISA was enacted to protect employer-sponsored benefits provided to employees.  As such, ERISA requires that the plan administrator, typically the insurer or employer, adhere to strict standards and deadlines.  However, while ERISA does set strict internal deadlines for the appeals process, it does not specify a time limit to bring a lawsuit for wrongfully denied benefits.  In this article, we discuss the statute of limitations and the contractual limitations periods in ERISA benefits cases and a relatively recent and plaintiff-friendly case decided by District Court judge Michael Fitzgerald …

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