Life insurance and annuities law is fraught with complexities and specific legal nuances that are unique to this ever-changing area of law. As such, it is crucial to partner with a life insurance lawyer who focuses exclusively on this area of practice; general practicing lawyers may well be ill-equipped to handle these areas of law, and one mistake can prove catastrophic.
Most people buy life insurance without having any understanding of the policy they are buying. Many financial advisors do not adequately understand the product they are selling, and fail to properly explain how it works. There are many areas of complexity in life insurance that can lead to mistakes, misunderstandings or worse.
When people are financially injured because of misconduct, malpractice or negligence, it is important that they are fairly compensated. If you or someone close to you is faced with a life insurance dispute, having an expert attorney in your corner is absolutely crucial.
Sadly, financial elder abuse is a spreading issue perpetrated against seniors throughout Los Angeles and the United States. The fact is, seniors are often unsophisticated and have money to invest — money they have accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. That makes them a target for insurance agents and financial advisors. Fortunately the California legislature "...recognizes that elders and dependent adults may be subjected to abuse, neglect, or abandonment and that this state has a responsibility to protect these persons. The Legislature further recognizes that a significant number of these persons are elderly. The Legislature desires to direct special attention to the needs and problems of elderly persons, recognizing that these persons constitute a significant and identifiable segment of the population and that they are more subject to risks of abuse, neglect, and abandonment."
It is important to realize that every insurer in California owes a duty of good faith to those it insures. This means that insurance companies have an obligation to their policyholders to maximize the benefits a policy provides, and that they may not injure the other party's ability to obtain the benefits they are entitled to.
That said, it is important to realize that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. The more they collect in premiums and the less they pay out in claims, the more profit they make. While many disputed claims are made in good faith based on policy coverages and exclusions, some are not. When an insurance company delays payment of or denies a claim without a valid reason for doing so, it is liable for damages that may include attorney's fees for litigating the dispute and in appropriate cases, punitive damages. If you believe that you are a victim of bad faith, it is important to reach out to counsel as soon as possible to understand your rights and to what you may be entitled. For close to 40 years I have been a litigator. Many of my cases have involved bad faith. My skills as both a former insurance agent and lawyer enable to me to recognize and evaluate bad faith issues that many others might not, including the most complex and nuanced, and to advocate for my clients effectively.
Viatical settlements or Los Angeles life settlements involve the situation where a third party buys an existing life insurance policy on someone unrelated to him or her (generally for cash).
One situation is where someone simply buys a life insurance policy for his or her family and then later on, usually much later, he or she becomes unable to pay for the policy and someone suggests that he or she could sell the policy, particularly if his or her health has declined.
Recently, a market has developed in which brokers will solicit life insurance sales from seniors with the promise of a free life insurance policy for the first two years (the contestability period), with the understanding that the policy will be sold thereafter for a profit.
Life insurance agents and securities brokers are professionals subject to a standard of care which, if violated, will subject them to liability to their clients. Investment or insurance professionals may also be subject to fiduciary standards. Fiduciaries must place the interest of their clients above their own interest. If they place their own interests above that of the client, they are not only liable for damages the client sustains, but may be liable for punitive damages as well. Unfortunately, many people who may have legitimate claims never assert them for a host of reasons, often because the broker is a friend, a family member, or someone they like and/or trust.
If you believe you may have been the victim of broker or agent malpractice , you owe it to yourself to understand the facts, the extent of potential damage you could sustain, and what your rights are, even if you do not choose to pursue action.
It is important to realize that every claim that an insurance company can successfully deny will go directly to its bottom line. Insurance companies will deny claims whenever they think they can get away with it. Those who are denying the claims are typically people who work in the claims department and are often not the most experienced or knowledgeable people in the company.They do make mistakes! Let a denied and delayed life insurance claims lawyer help you.
As a matter of public policy, an insurance contract can no longer be contested after two years. As defined in California Insurance Code, section 10113.5:
An individual life insurance policy delivered or issued for delivery in this state shall contain a provision that it is incontestable after it has been in force, during the lifetime of the insured, for a period of not more than two years after its date of issue, except for nonpayment of premiums and except for any of the supplemental benefits.