Our client’s husband died unexpectedly at age 48 following a massive heart attack. Fortunately, he had a life insurance policy. Unfortunately, the insurance company denied her claim for benefits. The denial was based on the fact that her husband had not disclosed his history of high blood pressure to the insurance company when he first applied for the coverage.
Insurers may rescind a life insurance policy within 2 years of its issuance if it discovers the applicant made a misrepresentation that the insurer reasonably relied upon in issuing the life policy. The key is whether the misrepresentation (whether innocent or intentional) was “reasonably” relied upon by the insurer in issuing the policy. In other words, if they had known the true facts they would not have issued the policy.
After filing suit Stennett & Casino obtained the insurance company’s records and found the insurer knew from its own medical examination that our client’s husband weighed over 300 pounds, had high blood pressure and an abnormal EKG. This information did not dissuade the insurer from issuing a life policy rather with this information the insurer substantially increased the policy premiums. Therefore, the insurance company was not misled by the husband’s failure to check the box on the application indicating he had high blood pressure and it could not deny the claim.