Has your valid life insurance claim been wrongfully denied? People rely on life insurance to provide a safety net when they lose a family member. Unfortunately, this reliance is often misplaced as life insurance companies frequently make excuses to wrongfully delay or deny valid claims. That leaves family members without the financial security the life insurance policy was meant to provide.
If you have recently lost a loved one and then had your valid attempts to collect on that person’s life insurance policy stonewalled or outright denied, it is essential to work with an experienced life insurance attorney to help collect the money you are owed.
For more than 25 years, The Callahan Law Firm has fought to protect the rights and interests of families throughout the Houston area and Texas. We know that losing a loved one is already an overwhelming experience. Let a life insurance law firm take on the hard work of pursuing your insurance claim. We will do what it takes to get the insurance company to pay the benefits you are entitled to so that you can move forward after your loss.
Our legal team has extensive experience in the insurance industry, so we understand the tactics insurance companies use to avoid fairly compensating you. We can handle the most complex life insurance claim cases.
At The Callahan Law Firm, we purposefully take a small firm approach, limiting the number of cases we accept so that you receive the attention and effort that you and your case deserve.
Contact us today to set up a free initial case review. You can discuss your life insurance claim with one of our insurance attorneys in Houston.
Common Reasons for Delays or Denials of Life Insurance Claims
Most life insurance policies sold in Texas have what is called a “two-year contestable period.” This means if the insured person passes away within two years of buying or renewing the policy, the insurance company has a right to investigate the insured’s death and the insurance application.
During their investigation, the insurance company will do its best to find any “misrepresentations” contained in the application. They will then use those “misrepresentations” to deny the claim.
While some delays or denials might be appropriate in these circumstances, all too often the insurance companies take advantage of a grieving family’s lack of knowledge about insurance law to wrongfully delay or deny a claim. The insurance company may raise one or more of the following issues when they deny the claim:
- Undisclosed and pre-existing medical conditions where the insurer says they would not have written the policy had the conditions been disclosed
- Behavior that causes the death of the insured which excuses payment
- Claims that were filed too late
- Change of a beneficiary at a time suspiciously close to the decedent’s death
- Claims that the policy was canceled for nonpayment of premium
- Claim forms that were incorrectly completed
- Questions about an insured’s competency
- Questions about the actual cause of death
- A dispute about who the beneficiaries are
- Failure to provide adequate documents to support a claim
- Failure to provide needed authorizations for release of medical information
- Contesting a policy
- Competing claims, meaning more than one person is claiming to be the rightful beneficiary to the policy
What You Need to Know about Bad-Faith Actions in Life Insurance Cases
Bad faith insurance claims arise when the company fails to treat the policyholder or beneficiary fairly and appropriately or fails to comply with state laws on handling claims. The insurance provider has a duty to provide the promised coverage in a prompt manner. When the insurance company fails to do this, compensation in addition to the owed policy may be due.
Examples of how a company may act in bad faith include:
- Failing to process a legitimate claim in a timely manner
- Making unreasonable demands for documentation
- Failing to conduct a thorough and accurate investigation
- Paying partial benefits when full benefits are owed
- Denying a claim that is covered by the policy
- Offering an unreasonable low-ball settlement
Contested Beneficiaries and the Interpleader Process
Sometimes multiple parties will step forward and claim they are the rightful beneficiary or beneficiaries of a life insurance policy. Life insurance companies usually do not attempt to determine which contesting party is the rightful beneficiary.
Paying the wrong party can expose the life insurance company to significant legal liabilities. Even where the life insurance company has a clear designation of beneficiary, the insurance company may withhold paying out benefits when a contesting party raises allegations of fraud, lack of capacity or undue influence.
Rather than risk a lawsuit by paying the wrong party, an insurance company will usually file a lawsuit known as an Interpleader. State and federal law protects insurance companies from liability when they file an Interpleader action to settle a dispute between beneficiaries. In an Interpleader action, the insurance company deposits the policy’s funds with the court and adds all the parties who claim to be the rightful beneficiary. The court then decides which party may rightfully receive the insurance proceeds. As an Interpleader is a specific type of lawsuit, you should hire an experience life insurance attorney to represent you to make sure your rights are protected.
Understanding the Types of Life Insurance
Most life insurance policies fall into one of two categories: term life insurance and permanent life insurance.
- Term life insurance. A term life insurance policy is designed to provide life insurance coverage for a designated period of time. If you die within the term of the policy, your beneficiaries or estate will receive a payout on the policy. Common life insurance terms range from 10 to 30 years, with the payout, or death benefit, remaining constant throughout the entire term. Term life insurance is often selected to cover your significant expenses, such as student loan debt, mortgages, or to provide for children in the event of your untimely death. As a result, the term will usually be set to expire once the mortgage has matured or the children have grown up and moved out of the house.
- Whole or Universal life insurance. Whole or Universal life insurance refers to the category of life insurance policies that usually do not expire. This type of life insurance is designed to last for the entire life of the insured. The premiums paid for this type of life insurance go toward: 1) maintaining the death benefit paid out upon the insured’s passing; and 2) a savings account that builds in value over the life of the insured. After acquiring the policy, the policyholder can borrow against or withdraw the savings after a waiting period.
Life Insurance Claim FAQs
Life Insurance Claim
Insurance companies may choose to reject a claim on a life insurance policy for several potentially legitimate reasons, including:
- The failure to disclose pre-existing medical conditions that would have rendered the insured person ineligible for a policy
- Circumstances of the insured’s death that fall within a policy exclusions (e.g. suicide)
- Untimely filing of a claim under the terms of the policy
- Failure to provide sufficient information regarding the insured’s death
- Cancellation of the policy for nonpayment of premiums
- Multiple claims made by competing beneficiaries
If the insurance company is denying a life insurance claim you believe that you are entitled to, talk to a Houston life insurance claim attorney from The Callahan Law Firm as soon as possible. You may only have a limited amount of time under the terms of the policy to contest a life insurance company’s delay or denial of your claim. Do not rely on the statements of the insurance company about whether or not a claim is covered. You should get an independent opinion from an experienced life insurance attorney.
An Interpleader refers to a legal action that a life insurance company will file if it receives competing claims to the proceeds of a life insurance policy. Since the insurance company can be held liable if it pays the wrong beneficiary, an Interpleader allows the insurance company to turn the policy proceeds over to the court. The court then determines which party is the rightful beneficiary.
If you have life insurance proceeds that have been Interpleaded by the insurance company, you should talk to our Houston life insurance claim attorneys as soon as possible. The insurance company will likely be awarded its legal costs from the Interpleader action from the funds of the insurance proceeds. Having an attorney to represent your rights and interests will help ensure that the Interpleader action is resolved as quickly as possible.
At The Callahan Law Firm, you owe no fees unless we recover financial compensation for you. We also offer free case reviews to go over the details of your claim and to answer any questions you may have about your legal rights and options.
How Our Houston Life Insurance Claim Attorney Can Help You
If you are facing difficulties getting payment from a life insurance policy that you believe you are entitled to, The Callahan Law Firm can help you by:
- Gathering documents and information needed by the insurance company to process your life insurance claim.
- Responding to requests from the insurance company for additional documents and information.
- Reviewing claim denials and pursuing the appeals process provided by the insurance company.
- Representing you in an Interpleader action filed by the insurance company.
- Filing a bad faith insurance claim lawsuit on your behalf when the insurer wrongfully delays or denies your claim.
Schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation today with a Houston life insurance policy attorney from The Callahan Law Firm. We can discuss how our firm can help you recover the benefits you deserve from a loved one’s life insurance policy. You owe no fees unless we can recover financial compensation for you.