If you or a loved one is having trouble collecting death benefits from a life insurance policy or if the insurance company has rejected your claim altogether, we can help you get the justice you deserve.
We are committed to protecting the best interests of individuals and family members at a vulnerable time—when illness, medical procedures, financial difficulties, and grief may seem like more than you can manage.
Contact the death benefits attorneys at Cullotta Bravo Law Group today at 630-898-7800 to schedule your free consultation.
Delay or Denial of Claims
You may have received a rejection letter from the insurance company, or they may be asking a lot of questions or requesting documents to back up your claim. Whatever the case may be, don’t despair. There are many reasons why insurance companies delay or deny death benefit payments, and we have seen them all.
Types of Death Benefits
Your policy might include one or more of the following benefits:
- Death Benefits: When the insured person dies, the death benefit is paid in a lump sum to the beneficiary named on the policy.
- Accelerated Death Benefits or “Living Benefits”: If you are the policy holder and terminally ill (usually with a life expectancy of two years or less), or in certain cases if you are chronically ill, you may be eligible to receive some of the death benefit on the policy now to help you with the costs of medical care, home care, or any other expenses you choose. All you have to do is keep making your monthly insurance premium payments. Upon your passing, your beneficiary will receive the death benefit less the amount paid to you prior to your death.
- Viatical Settlements: If you are the policyholder and terminally or chronically ill, you may choose to sell or transfer your life insurance policy ownership rights to an investor in exchange for an amount less than the full death benefit. The investor would take over the monthly payments, and they would receive the death benefit after your passing.
Common Reasons for Delaying or Denying Death Benefit Payments
Myriad factors could potentially interfere with benefit payments, including:
- The suicide exclusion: Many insurance policies contain a suicide exclusion — if the policyholder died by suicide, benefits will be denied. This is more common during the “contestability period.”
The contestability period is the first two years from the date the policy was issued. Within this window, an insurance company will review claims, usually requesting the policyholder’s medical record and looking for examples of “material misrepresentation.”
- Material misrepresentation: The insurance company uses this term to describe any lies, misrepresentations, or omissions on your policy application.
- Death due to alcohol or drug abuse: Some insurance policies include an exclusion for death due to alcohol abuse because they define it as a self-inflicted death. For deaths due to drug abuse, there are several possible scenarios, such as:
- The policyholder dies by overdose of prescription drugs. Considerations include whether they took them as prescribed and if the prescription was obtained under false pretenses.
- The policyholder dies by overdose of illegal drugs. The insurance company could maintain that the policyholder should have been aware of and chose to take that risk.
- Murder: There are two scenarios in which death benefits would be denied:
- The beneficiary is convicted of murdering the policyholder.
- The policyholder was murdered while engaging in illegal activity.
- Lapsed policy due to nonpayment of premiums: The insurance company will deny the claim.
- No beneficiary listed: If no beneficiary was named in the policy or if the beneficiary dies before the policyholder, death benefits will be paid to the estate of the deceased policyholder.
- Failed to produce the required documentation: Claims for death benefits must be accompanied by supporting documentation, including but not limited to:
- Claimant’s statement
- Certified death certificate
- Original life insurance policy
- Copy of the obituary or newspaper announcement of the death (if available)
- Signed HIPAA authorization
Contact Culotta Bravo Law Group
If your insurance company is delaying or denying your or your loved one’s claim for death benefits, don’t try to negotiate on your own. The wisest course of action is to hire an experienced death benefits attorney.
Contact Cullotta Bravo Law Group online or call us at 630-898-7800 to schedule your free consultation.