John Stennett and Barbara Casino have years of experience in successfully handling life insurance claims. A quick perusal of the below listed cases reflects a sampling of STENNETT & CASINO’s numerous successes and highlights the issues that arose in those cases.
Emily Dixon left work as a teacher shortly after receiving a cancer diagnoses so she could go through the necessary treatments. As an employee of the School District she was enrolled in a group life insurance plan with Hartford Insurance. When she went on disability leave the school district’s automatic payment of premiums to Hartford terminated.
Emily died about 2 years after receiving her diagnoses leaving her husband and children. Her husband’s claim for benefits to Hartford was denied. Hartford claimed that the policy terminated when the school district stopped paying premiums.
Mr. Dixon retained Stennett & Casino who pointed out to Hartford that its policy provided for a waiver of premiums when an insured becomes disabled and successfully obtained the life insurance benefits.
The Barrozos invited a financial advisor into their home to give them advice on college planning. The adviser had no recommendation for college planning, but recommended that they exchange 6 life insurance policies they had purchased over the years for a shiny new single policy with American General Insurance. Unfortunately, Mr. Barrozo died 8 months later. Mrs. Barrozo’s claim for benefits was denied by American General due to a claimed failure to disclose health issue’s on their initial application. Insurers are entitled to rescind policies during the first 2 years of coverage if there is a material misrepresentation of the applicants health condition. However, rescission is not available after the first 2 years of coverage.
The replacement of existing life insurance policies with new policies (referred to as twisting) is a practice that has been abused by insurance agents for decades. Because the agent’s commission is heavily weighted toward the first year’s premiums their incentive is to convince clients to buy new policies, not to service old policies. And the agent makes larger commissions when their client rolls over the cash value of their existing policy into a new policy because that cash value (often tens of thousands of dollars) becomes part of the first year premium and the basis of the agent’s commission.
Stennett & Casino were successful in claims against both the agent and the insurance company for their failure to provide appropriate advice and protect their client’s interests.
Ms. Hoffman obtained life insurance with Metropolitan Life through her employment. Because of a serious illness she had to reduce her full-time employment to part-time work. She was advised that she would continue to receive her employment benefits even though she was not a full-time employee. Though she retained her health insurance, the life policy did not provide coverage for part-time employees. Thus when Ms. Hoffman passed from her illness MetLife denied Mr. Hoffman’s claim for life insurance benefits
The policy did provide a limited nine-month extension of coverage if you are unable to work because of illness. But it required the continued payment of premiums which the employer failed to do. This was all discovered by Mr. Hoffman after his wife’s death a year later.
We convinced the employer to pay the life insurance premiums for the nine-month extension retroactively. However, Ms. Hoffman died approximately 2 months after the extension expired. Nevertheless, Stennett & Casino was able to obtain the full policy benefits for Mr. Hoffman.
Teresa had 2 life insurance policies through her employer with United of Omaha Life Insurance. When she became ill she could no longer work full-time and thus went to a part-time schedule with her employer. Her employer told her not to worry about her life insurance and that he would keep it in effect and make sure all premiums were paid. She worked on a part-time basis for approximately one year until her cancer diagnosis became more severe. She died approximately one year thereafter.
Omaha denied Teresa’s son’s claim for life insurance benefits on the basis that one needed to be a full-time employee to be eligible for coverage under the policy and she had not worked full-time since her cancer diagnosis in 2015.
Teresa filed for disability benefits in November 2017 with United of Omaha. Despite this knowledge that Teresa was disabled and not a full-time employee, United continued to accept premium payments on her life policy until her death in August 2018. Thus, Stennett & Casino asserted that United not only breached its fiduciary duties owed to Teresa but also waived the full-time eligibility requirements by continuing to accept premiums after learning of her disability.
Stennett & Casino filed suit in Federal court claiming that the employer breached its fiduciary duty owed to its employee by misleading her on her continued coverage and received a judgment for the full amount of benefits.