- Life Insurance
For many people, the most important aspect of financial planning may be a life insurance policy. Life insurance is intended to provide a secure financial future for a person's family members or other beneficiaries in the unfortunate event of the insured person's death.
Medical costs before a person's death may be substantial and funerals are expensive. Estate debts or taxes may need to be settled. The unexpected death of a primary breadwinner may leave behind a needy family. A person's beneficiaries depend on the proceeds of a life insurance policy to cover the costs related to their departed relative or friend.
Insurance companies sometimes delay, dispute, or deny making prompt payments on life insurance policies for any number of reasons, adding insult to injury for grieving relatives or friends who are depending on a timely distribution of funds to satisfy end-of-life expenses, for financial support, or begin a new chapter in their lives in the wake of their loss.
Attorney for Life Insurance Claims in Sarasota, FL
If your loved one recently passed away in Sarasota, Florida, and you are a beneficiary of that person's life insurance policy, or if you recently submitted a life insurance claim to an insurance company, but are waiting for action, or if your life insurance claim was recently denied, contact a knowledgeable Sarasota life insurance attorney to discuss your case.
Germain Law Group represents clients in life insurance claims and negotiates with insurance companies who attempt to delay, dispute, or deny full life insurance benefits or act in bad faith. Our capable attorneys pledge to be aggressive advocates for every dollar you deserve from a life insurance claim. We are experienced in all types of insurance law and we will go to court, if necessary, to defend a client's rights.
Our Sarasota County office is conveniently located just off Interstate 75 along University Parkway (Exit 213). We also serve clients in Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, and Hardee counties.
Call Germain Law Group at our Sarasota, FL, office today at (941) 316-0333 to talk to one of our experienced life insurance law attorneys.
Sarasota, Florida Life Insurance Information Center
- Definition of Life Insurance in Sarasota, FL
- Coverage Offered by Life Insurance Policies in Sarasota
- Procedures for Filing a Life Insurance Claim in Sarasota
- Denial of Life Insurance Claims in Sarasota
- Contesting Denials of Life Insurance Claims in Sarasota
- Taking a Life Insurance Claim to Court in Sarasota
Definition of Life Insurance in Sarasota, Florida
Section 624.602 of the Florida Statutes defines "Life Insurance,” as "insurance of human lives."
The law goes on to say that "the transaction of life insurance includes … the granting of annuity contracts, including … fixed or variable annuity contracts [and] the granting of endowment benefits, additional benefits in event of death or dismemberment by accident or accidental means."
A “life insurer” or “life insurance company” is an insurer engaged in the business of issuing life insurance contracts, including contracts of combined life and health and accident insurance.
Coverage Offered by Life Insurance Policies in Sarasota, Florida
A typical life insurance contract requires the policyholder to make a regular payment (premium) to the insurer to keep the contract in force. In exchange, the insurer agrees to pay a designated amount (benefit) after the policyholder's death if all premiums are paid on time.
Life insurance does not usually encompass workers’ compensation benefits, but does allow for additional benefits in the event of the insured's disability, and optional modes of settlement of proceeds of life insurance." Life insurance does not include workers compensation coverage.
Contracts similar to life insurance policies may include fixed or variable annuity contracts, endowment benefits, additional benefits for disability, and additional benefits due to accidental death or injury.
The two most common types of life insurance are:
- Term Life Insurance
- Whole Life Insurance
Term Life Insurance: Provides low-cost insurance over a specific time period, but does not build cash value. Term life insurance policies may be for one, five, or 10 years, but will lapse if not renewed. Renewal rates are usually higher because the insured person is older.
Whole Life Insurance: Whole life insurance is generally intended as a long-term investment to cover a person for life and builds cash value over time if no benefits are paid. Whole life insurance premiums are generally more expensive than term life insurance premiums.
An annuity is a separate contract between an insurer and a policyholder in which the insurer makes periodic payments to the policyholder after certain restrictions are met.
The benefits offered by different types of life insurance policies vary widely. Some policies have age limits; if a person reaches a certain advanced age, the person's "mortality timetable" expires. Some policies only pay if a person dies in a certain way, such as by accident or illness, but not if death occurs naturally. Life insurance companies also usually exempt suicide from death benefit coverage.
Procedures for Filing a Life Insurance Claim in Sarasota
A death certificate is required by an insurance company before any death benefits are paid. The insurer may also require the filing of other paperwork. It is important to provide complete and accurate information, so as not to give the insurer any reason to delay, dispute or deny the claim.
If the circumstances surrounding the death are unusual or no death certificate is issued, contact an experienced life insurance attorney for capable, professional assistance.
Florida law decrees that "failing to promptly settle claims, when the obligation to settle a claim has become reasonably clear," is a legal reason to "bring a civil action against an insurer when such person is damaged" (F.S. § 624.155).
Denial of Life Insurance Claims in Sarasota
Life insurance companies are for-profit businesses and their employees are trained to be stingy about distributing company cash. A life insurance company may attempt to delay, dispute or deny a claim, which is often for a substantial amount of money.
Among the reasons a life insurance company might deny a claim for benefits are:
- Premiums were not Paid or were Paid Late, Voiding the Policy: Insurers often use this loophole to avoid paying a claim. You paid premiums for 30 years, but were late or missed a recent payment while your loved one struggled to live? Too bad! A reputable insurance agent will be able to apply safeguards to assure no premium payments are late or missed and most policies provide for a "grace period" during which payments may be brought up to date.
- Death Occurred Too Soon after Policy was Obtained: Life insurance policies have "contestability periods" that typically remain in effect for two years after the contract is signed. Companies can apply greater scrutiny to a death that occurs during this period, although the insurer may still be liable for full or at least partial death benefits. Any glitches in the assertions made on the application may be suspect during the contestability period.
- Policyholder did not Disclose Personal Information Completely or Honestly: Another common reason why insurers deny life insurance benefits is when an insured person fails to provide complete information or provides inaccurate or false information. Lying about personal medical issues or past criminal convictions may provide an insurer with an excuse to deny benefits, but depending on the terms of the policy, these issues must usually be raised during the contestability period. Once the contestability period ends, the policy will usually be in full force. But, for example, lying about or hiding previous cancer treatments and later dying of cancer could be a major problem when it comes time to collect death benefits.
- Specific Type of Death was not Covered by the Policy: It is important to read the fine print of a life insurance contract to be aware of any exclusions that may apply. For example, some policies specifically do not cover pilots, SCUBA divers, or people who participate in extreme sports. Suicide is also usually excluded from eligibility for death benefits, but proving whether or not a suicide or other cause of death occurred is often problematic.
Contesting Denials of Life Insurance Claims
If your loved one designated you as a life insurance beneficiary and you are encountering difficulty in claiming death benefits after the person's death, you need a proven advocate to assist you in your dealings with the insurance company.
If your claim was denied, Florida insurers are required to provide a specific written reason for denial, including the specific provision in the contract for basis of the denial, while requesting any missing information that could validate the claim, and explain how the denial can be appealed.
Florida law sets a statute of limitations on how long a beneficiary has to claim life insurance benefits at five years (F.S. § 717.107(1)). Taking a Life Insurance Claim to Court in Sarasota.
Insurance companies are required to act in good faith and are required to pay valid insurance claims in a timely fashion. If an insurance company acts in bad faith or violates any Florida laws, the company may be subject to fines. When a Florida insurance company acts in bad faith in Sarasota, Florida, a dedicated insurance lawyer can assist you in making the company pay by taking the insurer to court.
The insurance attorneys at Germain Law Group are focused on fighting for the rights of insurance policyholders throughout Sarasota County and nearby areas.
We sometimes appear in county court on behalf of clients at:
- Sarasota County Courthouse 2000 W. Main St. Sarasota, FL 34237
The attorneys at Germain Law Group most often appear in state court at the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, including the main courthouse in Sarasota, Florida and other offices elsewhere in Sarasota County and surrounding counties, including these courthouses:
- Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center 2002 Ringling Blvd. Sarasota, FL 34237
- R.L. Anderson Administrative Building 4000 S. Tamiami Trail Venice, FL 34293
- Manatee County Judicial Center 1051 Manatee Ave., W. Bradenton, FL 34205
- DeSoto County Courthouse 115 E. Oak St. Arcadia, FL 34266
Florida Statutes, Title XXXVII, Chapter 624, Section 624.602 — Read the precise language of the Florida law that defines life insurance. Other pertinent laws are contained in Chapters 624-651 of the Florida Statutes.
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FOIR) — Life Insurance — Find helpful information and links related to life insurance at the FOIR website.
Insurance Information Institute — Life Insurance — Find informative articles about life insurance from the independent Insurance Information Institute (III).
Find a Lawyer for Life Insurance Claims in Sarasota, FL
Life insurance should be straightforward, but if you are embroiled in a dispute over a life insurance policy with an insurer in Sarasota, Florida, contact the experienced insurance lawyers at Germain Law Group today to schedule an appointment so we can discuss your case.
Germain Law Group handles many types of insurance matters in Sarasota,FL, and the surrounding counties, including Manatee County, DeSoto County, Highlands County, and Hardee County, but none are more important than life insurance claims.
The expectations of a life insurance policyholder and the policyholder's beneficiaries are that an insurer will act in good faith. If you are encountering difficulties with a life insurance provider or your life insurance claim was denied, contact the dedicated insurance attorneys at Germain Law Group to discuss the details of your case.
Our Sarasota office is located in the University Commons Office Center at 6151 Lake Osprey Drive, Suite 300, near the intersection of Interstate 75 and University Parkway (Exit 213) in northeast Sarasota, near Lakewood Ranch.
Call Germain Law Group at (941) 316-0333 today to discuss your situation.
Meet Our Attorney
Michael B. Germain
Michael B. Germain is the founder of the Germain Law Group. For over a decade, Michael has been involved in litigating insurance claims and complex commercial matters.