Life Insurance and Annuities

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.

I have been working on these issues since 1974, focusing my practice almost exclusively on these issues. I am ready to bring my comprehensive knowledge to resolve issues efficiently and effectively whenever possible.

That said, if litigation is required, I am an experienced and effective advocate for life insurance and investment matters, having tried numerous jury trials, court trials and arbitrations. I have mediated over 200 cases and have served as arbitrator on over 100 cases.

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Life Insurance Litigation

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.

Policy Dispute Lawyer

I am an experienced and effective advocate for life insurance and investment litigation matters having tried numerous jury trials, court trials and arbitrations. I have mediated over 200 cases and have served as arbitrator on over 100 cases. I am prepared to work on cases involving:

Beneficiary disputes

Contestability

Material misrepresentation

Denial of benefits

Alleged payment lapses

In many cases, a life insurance company will have its own internal rules or forms that are not actually a part of the insurance contract. All too often these companies will state one thing (based on its operations that are irrelevant to a policy) that contradicts what it says in the actual insurance policy or what is required by law. As such, they may give inaccurate information regarding a policy, and wrongfully deny a claim that should have been paid. This is why it is absolutely critical to partner with an experienced life insurance litigation lawyer.

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Elder Financial Abuse

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."

Neglect, Abandonment and Financial Abuse Issues

When individuals in the insurance and financial services industry sell products to persons over 65 such as life insurance or annuities in bad faith, that is elder financial abuse. If you believe you or someone close to you may have suffered elder financial abuse, it is important to realize that you may be entitled to damages, lawyer's fees and in egregious cases, punitive damages. If you even suspect this may be the case, it is important to get in touch with counsel as soon as possible.

I am ready to put the litigation experience that I have acquired since 1975 to work to obtain all compensation and damages to which you are entitled. Because I have worked to prosecute against elder abuse and have worked as an insurance agent and compliance officer, I have a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved. As an elder financial abuse lawyer, I will efficiently and effectively determine if you have a case and do everything possible to advocate for you. I encourage you to get in touch.

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Insurance Bad Faith

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.

Bad Faith Insurance Policy Claims

It is important to realize that insurance policies are typically written in very broad and general terms. While, many of these terms are defined in the policy, some important terms are not.

Courts will interpret insurance policies in a manner consistent with that in which a policyholder or insured would have reasonably understood the policy to mean. If there are ambiguities, they are supposed to be resolved in favor of coverage. Consistent with this doctrine, policy exclusions are strictly and narrowly construed against the insurer.

This means that if there is any ambiguity in the policy, it is supposed to be resolved in favor of the policyholder. Regardless of your issue, I encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible and schedule an initial consultation.

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Life Settlements

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.

Insurance Broker Fraud

It is important to realize that anybody who buys a life insurance policy from an insurance company has to have (at the time that the policy is issued/applied for) an insurable interest in the life of the insured person. The people who would have an insurable interest would include the insured, his or her family, a charity, business partner, or anybody who would financially suffer if that person died.

Anybody who does not have an insurable interest in the life of a person could not take a life insurance policy on that person. That said, there is an existing investment community that invests in life insurance policies on people because it can be a profitable investment — indeed, it can return considerably more than a treasury bond. It is important to realize, however, that the longer the insured lives, the worse the return is, because the policyholder must continue to pay premiums.

The way that many brokers will try to get around the insurable interest requirement is by having the person take out the policy in his or her own name or a trust but to secretly pay for it with funds lent or advanced by those who intend to later buy the policy. The insurance companies have found ways to get try to smoke these types of sales out by asking lots of questions on the application, whether someone else is paying, whether one has agreed to sell at a later date, etc. However, in many cases, sales agents will encourage their clients not to tell the truth.

The legal issues that result have been hotly debated and contested, and different courts have held different rulings in different jurisdictions. As such, it is critical to partner with a lawyer who can efficiently and effectively determine your situation and help you reach an ideal outcome.

If you had a life insurance policy and a controversy has arisen regarding your policy, I am prepared to bring nearly 40 years of experience to understand all issues and advocate for you. I have extensive experience litigating against brokers, insurance companies and others. I will bring my comprehensive knowledge to obtain everything to which you are entitled.

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Broker and Agent Malpractice

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.

Nearly Four Decades of Experience

As a life insurance malpractice attorney, I have litigated for close to 40 years. Many of my cases have involved insurance broker and agent malpractice. As such, I am prepared to work on cases involving:

Unsuitable investment recommendations

Recommending investments without appropriate professional licensing or knowledge

Improper design of life insurance policies

Improper designation of ownership of life insurance policy

Advising client to borrow money to purchase life insurance

Unsuitable annuity recommendations

Failure to explain risks

Failure to provide documentation

Failure to properly document transactions

Failure to supervise investment transactions

Distribution of unapproved literature

Incorporating contradictory terms into an annuity

Although insurance companies are usually not liable for an agent's malpractice, agents are ordinarily required to carry errors and omissions insurance. In cases where the agent or broker does not have such insurance, it may be possible to go directly against the insurance company for breach of its own duties to the policyholder.

Your deliberate and decisive action is critical. You need to protect your rights by taking action as soon as you realize there is a potential problem — the statute of limitations clock is ticking. If you fail to mitigate your damages or delay doing something about your policy when you know there is a problem, your window for action may close. I encourage you to get in touch with me as soon as possible.

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Denied and Delayed Life Insurance

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.

Delayed Life Insurance Claims

If you have had a life insurance or accidental death claim delayed or denied in a way that you believe was unfair, it is important to understand that you have options. For close to 40 years, I have helped my clients work through these issues, obtain the compensation they've deserved and reach a best possible outcome. I am ready to do everything I can to help you do the same.

Because I have worked as a life insurance agent as well as a lawyer, I am able to efficiently and effectively determine whether or not you have been unfairly denied a claim or delayed. I know how to interpret insurance contracts, how to put maximum pressure on insurance companies and how to pursue the right course for your case.

Regardless of the issues you are facing, it is extremely important to take action as soon as possible. The statute of limitations may well be running, and you must take decisive action. I encourage you to get in touch.

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Life Insurance Incontestability Clause

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.

The purpose of these protections is to ensure that insurance companies address questions and issues within a reasonable time and while the insured is still alive; this protects people from insurance companies collecting premiums for years and then conducting an investigation after death in order to deny payment to beneficiaries. In practice, this means that insurance companies are not allowed to contest policies after this period for absolutely any reason (including fraud).

In recent years, however, certain insurance companies have argued that in certain cases, a policy may be declared void for a misrepresentation in the application even after the period of incontestability. By doing this, they have sometimes successfully denied payment and added it to their bottom line. If you are involved in such a dispute, it is important to protect yourself by understanding your rights.

As a life insurance attorney, I am prepared to bring nearly 40 years of experience to help you resolve any life insurance contestability issue. It is important to reach out as soon as possible because the statute of limitations may be ticking. I encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible.

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