American Association of Justice

Life Insurance Denials

When a loved one dies, a life insurance policy can provide much-needed financial assistance for those left behind. Survivors often depend on the life insurance death benefit to support them in future years after they have lost a family member. When the insurance company denies coverage, it can compound the tragedy of the loss by pushing surviving family members into financial hardship.

When a life insurance policyholder pays premiums to the insurance company, he or she reasonably believes that the insurance company will deliver on its promise to pay the death benefit when due. Sometimes, however, life insurance companies handle claims in an unfair or incorrect manner. They deny claims for unjust reasons. When that happens, a beneficiary has a right to file a lawsuit to challenge the denial. Many people, unfortunately, are not aware that the life insurance company's decision is not final and they can pursue a legal remedy in court.

As a New Jersey and New York life insurance attorney, Eric Dinnocenzo has vast experience representing policyholders and beneficiaries against life insurance companies. In fact, he is one of a few lawyers who has developed a special interest in representing clients in life insurance cases. He has litigated life insurance denial cases in both New Jersey and New York federal and state courts against major national insurance companies and has obtained many successful results for his clients.

He has also published articles about complex issues in the field of life insurance law and is active in associations that support the rights of insurance policyholders.

Common reasons that life insurance companies refuse to pay a death benefit are because of alleged unpaid premiums and material misrepresentations made in the application. They also will deny claims that involve an insured committing suicide.

Furthermore, when there is a dispute between multiple persons about who should receive the death benefit, life insurance companies will commonly commence an interpleader action in which they seek permission to deposit the life insurance proceeds with the court and be dismissed from the action so the claimants can litigate for the death benefit.

Eric Dinnocenzo has experience handling these types of life insurance cases and others. He knows what it takes to bring a case against a life insurance company and win.

In order to prevail against life insurance companies, an attorney must understand application and underwriting procedures, claims handling practices, the internal hierarchy of insurance companies, and the requirements for denial letters. Through his experience in this area of law, Eric Dinnocenzo has developed an in-depth knowledge of these matters that has proven highly effective in overturning life insurance denials.

If your life insurance claim has been denied, do not give up hope! Many denied claims can be overturned or settled for a fair value. You need an attorney on your side who understands the ins-and-outs of New York and New Jersey insurance law.

Types of Cases

In an effort to maximize profits and minimize expenses, life insurance companies will seek out almost any available reason to deny payment. Most often, life insurance denials fall into two categories:

Material misrepresentations - when an insured has allegedly omitted or misrepresented the true facts concerning health, income, or other personal information in the application.

Lapsed premiums - when the premium payments have not been timely paid at the time of death.

Life insurance denials also occur when there is a suicide or other alleged dispute about the death of the insured. Denials can occur in other contexts, too. Since a life insurance policy is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company, if the insurance company believes that the policyholder breached the contract, it may deny a claim for the policy.

In New Jersey and New York, like in many other states, the insurance company has a two-year contestability period in which to rescind coverage on the grounds that a material misrepresentation was made in the application. After two years have passed since the life insurance policy was issued, the insurance company cannot disclaim coverage on this basis. But if the insured dies within those two years, the insurance company may investigate the truthfulness of the application and, if warranted, deny coverage based on a material misrepresentation. Denials routinely occur within this two-year contestability period.

Many policyholders and beneficiaries believe that if their claim is denied, they have no recourse and must accept the decision as final. However, if your insurance claim is denied, you have a right to challenge it in court.

If a policyholder or beneficiary who has experienced a life insurance denial resides in New Jersey or New York, or if the insurance company has its headquarters in New Jersey or New York, Attorney Eric Dinnocenzo may be able to provide legal representation to help them recover the policy.

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