Life insurance benefits are an important tool for providing financial security in the event you or a loved one dies. Typically, individuals obtain life insurance coverage in two ways: through their employment; or by purchasing a policy on their own. The laws governing a life insurance policy will vary depending on how an individual obtained their coverage and the state in which in the policy was issued. Regardless of how an individual obtains life insurance coverage, it is of little to no value if a claim is denied following the death of the insured individual. Unfortunately, life insurance claims are frequently denied for a variety of reasons. Consulting with an experienced life insurance lawyer is important in determining if your claim was rightly or wrongly denied and in holding the insurer accountable.
Life insurance policies provided as part of an employee benefit plan are often governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”). ERISA is a comprehensive federal law that governs employee benefit plans provided by nearly all employers in the private sector. (Employee benefits provided by federal, state, and local governments are not covered by ERISA, nor are benefits provided by certain employers affiliated with religious organizations). An ERISA life insurance benefit plan may provide an individual with less protections than a comparable life insurance policy purchased on the individual market.
All ERISA-regulated life insurance plans contain a mandatory appeal process you must go through before you seek relief in court. The ERISA life insurance appeal process typically contains short deadlines and can be confusing. An experienced ERISA life insurance lawyer can explain this process to you, advise of you of the potential issues with your claim, and help you build a well-developed record with your appeal.
Life insurance policies purchased on an individual basis either through a broker or directly from an insurance company are generally not covered by ERISA. Instead, they are governed by state law. Many state laws provide additional consumer protections not available under ERISA-regulated life insurance policies. That does not mean, however, that you should face the insurance company alone. If your individual life insurance claim was denied, you should still consult with an experienced attorney to better understand your legal rights. The Garner Firm handles life insurance claims for policies issued under Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland law.
In addition, Mr. Garner has spoken on life insurance claims and litigation at several national insurance and employee benefits conferences over the years. If you have questions regarding your ERISA life insurance claim or non-ERISA life insurance claim, please contact The Garner Firm today.
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