Underwritten

Covering Topics on Life, Health, Disability and Long-Term Care Insurance

We all know how prevalent bad faith claims are. It seems like almost every case involving disputed policy benefits includes one. Many have no merit and should be disposed of on summary judgment. The rest, however, arguably have at least some degree of legitimacy. While it may not seem that difficult to identify those that present significant exposure, the large verdicts we continue to see suggest otherwise. So how can insurers distinguish between a garden-variety bad faith claim…
A recent Second Circuit opinion highlights an important nuance in New York’s revocation on divorce statute, N.Y. Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 5-1.4. In New York Life Insurance Company v. Sahani, the Second Circuit affirmed the district’s courts finding that a decedent’s ex-spouse was entitled to life insurance policy proceeds despite divorcing the decedent the year prior. In 2001, New York Life Insurance Company issued a $250,000 whole life insurance policy to the…
Last year, the President issued an Executive Order directing the Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue regulations to expand access to association health plans (AHPs). Earlier this year, the DOL issued final regulations and FAQs on AHPs. The regulations broaden the definition of an “employer” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The revised definition is intended to assist employers in joining together as a group or association of employers by…
The growth of direct-to-consumer DNA kits is a big deal with significant ramifications for the life insurance industry. Direct-to-consumer DNA kits, commonly used to track ancestry roots, increasingly allow individuals to assess their potential health risks by predicting genetic illnesses. Now, Google-backed 23andMe and Ancestry.com offer DNA test kits for $99, which can be ordered online with the click of a button. The DNA reports can recognize genetic variants associated with an increased risk of…
Alabama’s Elder Abuse Act attempts to protect financial abuse of elders. But by not including insurance companies and insurance agents, does the Act go far enough? Following up on the blog post from late June concerning the intersection of elder abuse laws and long-term care litigation, this post concerns an Alabama statute aiming to prevent financial abuse of elders in the financial advisory context: “Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act,” Ala. Code § 8-7-170,…
A long-term care insurance class action filed in May 2018 highlights the importance of clearly defined policy language. At dispute in the lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is the definition of “premium class.” The phrase is not defined in the Continental Casualty Company (CNA) policy, which was issued through CNA’s Federal Judiciary Group Program. The plaintiff, who was a resident of the state of Washington at…
A gay man is suing Mutual of Omaha in Massachusetts federal court alleging that Mutual unlawfully denied him long-term care insurance because he was taking the HIV-preventative medication Truvada as PrEP. While that lawsuit may challenge the bounds of both insurance and Massachusetts public accommodation laws, it is not the only arena in which disputes related to insurance coverage and PrEP are currently playing out. State Regulators Weight In As more gay men come…
The question of whether Mutual of Omaha discriminated against a gay man (John Doe) when it refused to issue a long-term care insurance policy due to the company’s practice of denying coverage to anyone using the HIV-prevention protocol Truvada, also called PrEP, is set to be decided by a Massachusetts court and may have an impact beyond just the parties in that case. Two Viewpoints For Mutual, the lawsuit is a pure insurance case because…
The issue of HIV prevention, an issue that is seen by many to affect the LGBTQ community disproportionately, more specifically gay men, has found its way into the discussion of civil liberties in the context of insurance by way of the Massachusetts lawsuit regarding PrEP that was the subject of a recent blog post. As a backdrop to any discussion of HIV and insurance, a retrospective on the effect of HIV/AIDS on the insurance…
In Munro v. Univ. of S. Cal., the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration of an ERISA action brought by current and former employees of the University of Southern California (USC). The employees alleged that USC, as administrator of certain employee retirement plans, had breached its fiduciary duties as plan administrator. They sought equitable and monetary relief against USC with regard to the past and future…