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austin-mehr-kentucky-law-update
Austin Mehr will be presenting for the Kentucky Bar Association Law Updates. Austin will be presenting throughout the state on the topic of federal insurance law on the following dates:

  • Friday, August 30 – Owensboro Convention Center
  • Friday, September 13 – Northern Kentucky Convention Center

life-insurance-claims-faqs

Life insurance can be purchased one of two ways, either through your employer, in which case ERISA applies, or from a private life insurance company. ​Our experienced bad faith insurance and ERISA lawyers can assist you when either types of these claims have been denied.

For more information on life insurance claims, read the FAQs below:

  • Why would an insurer deny my life insurance claim? There are many reasons given by insurers for denying a life insurance claim. Most denials arise from the language in the actual policy . The insurer may deny payment because of the particular cause of death, or because a death occurs within a certain period of time after the policy is issued. A claim may be denied based upon alleged misrepresentations in the application- such as a statement that the deceased person was of “good health”.. Typically, the insurer doesn’t double check on the accuracy of such statement until after someone dies, when they look through the medical records with a fine-tooth comb.
  • Can a spouse contest a life insurance beneficiary? It is difficult to contest a beneficiary designated by a spouse on a life insurance policy, but it is not impossible. There are many factors which could lead a court to invalidating or rewriting a policy to more accurately reflect what an insured intended or to canceling a policy which was issued inappropriately.
  • Can a beneficiary claim on a lapsed policy? Even if a life insurance policy is lapsed, there may be opportunities to make a claim under it. The terms of the policy will be a major factor in making that determination.
  • Can a last-minute insurance beneficiary change be contested? A court can undo a last-minute change in the beneficiary of a life insurance policy in some situations where it appears that the change was improper.
  • Who can change the beneficiary of a life insurance policy? Generally, the owner of the life insurance policy can change the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. The owner may not be the insured. The owner is designated by the policy and is generally, but not always, the person who pays the premiums.
  • How do you find out if a deceased person had life insurance? It is important to review the papers, documents, and records of a deceased person to determine whether there may be any life insurance on their life. It is also a good idea to check with their insurance agents, bankers, employers, and any associations or organizations in which there were a member. Whether the deceased had a safe deposit box is also an important determination to make.
  • How do you find out if a life insurance policy was paid out? The insurance company is the best source of information on whether a life insurance policy was paid out. Bear in mind, the insurance company may not disclose that information to just anyone. You might have to show them why you need to know.
  • What happens to life insurance policies with no beneficiary? Generally, life insurance policies with no designated beneficiary or no surviving beneficiary will be paid in accordance with their terms, usually to the estate of the deceased.
  • How does money get split between beneficiaries? Generally, the proceeds of a life insurance policy are paid amongst the beneficiaries as designated by the insured or the owner of the policy. Otherwise, it is split equally amongst the beneficiaries unless the policy provides otherwise.
  • Can a life insurance beneficiary be changed after death? The beneficiary of a life insurance policy cannot generally be changed after the death of the insured, except by court order or, if allowed by the policy, by the direction of some other document, or by virtue of the beneficiary being a trust or some other entity who can re-direct the proceeds.
  • Can I share life insurance benefits with my siblings? The beneficiary of a life insurance policy can do whatever they want with the benefits that they receive, unless restricted by some other document, such as if they are the trustee of a trust.
  • The insurer claims the deceased committed suicide, but they did not. Can I make them pay? This happens sometimes and suicide “exclusions” are not enforcable generally if the policy has been in force for a certain number of years. And certainly the circumstances of what caused the death can be challenged by a lawyer.
  • The insurer denied the payment of the claim but sent the premiums paid back to the family. Should I cash the check? No. Do not cash the check until you discuss with a lawyer experienced in life insurance law.
  • The insurer claims the application contains mistakes, but it was the agent’s mistake. Do they have to pay? Sometimes they will have to be bound by what the agent wrote down if the agent’s answers to questions aren’t what the deceased person actually told them.

faqs-on-long-term-disability

How do I apply for long-term disability benefits?

You must follow the process and procedure outlined by your long-term disability plan. Your employer’s human resource department is required to provide you with a summary of your plan and its benefits. They may be able to help you fill out the forms.

I received a letter saying my long-term disability benefits were denied. What should I do?

judge-orders-reliance-standard

Elizabeth Thornsbury, one of the firm’s attorneys experienced in short- and long-term disability claims, received an Order in federal court against Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company on June 12, 2019. Judge Caldwell found that “Reliance Standard acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying Asher’s appeal…” and that “the final denial decision was not the result of a ‘deliberate principled reasoning process.’”  The case was remanded to Reliance Standard to give our client’s claim “a full and fair review.”

Click here for a copy of the Order.

happy-birthday-to-the-ucspa

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act! Thirty-five years ago today, our Kentucky state legislators met and voted UNANIMOUSLY to pass the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act.

This law leveled the playing field for all citizens of the state against insurance company claim practices.  No longer could insurance companies leverage the unequal bargaining position they had against someone financially distressed because a terrible event had occurred in their life. No longer could insurance companies take advantage of the immediate need for money that stems from accidents, deaths, disability and life‘s tragedies! It put an end to insurance companies delaying claims unreasonably until they can save money.

The fight continues at Mehr, Fairbanks & Peterson to enforce these laws and to stop insurance claim abuses. There continues to be inappropriate motivations and lack of training of claims personnel to, first and foremost, be fair and prompt in claim payments.

[Article: Salyersville Independent – https://salyersvilleindependent.com/article/jury-awards-15-mil-mineral-rights-case]

SALYERSVILLE – A Magoffin County jury made the largest bad faith judgment in Magoffin County’s history on Friday, awarding a family over $15 million in an 11-year-old civil case.

Just as a brief synopsis, and at the risk of missing something pertinent in the long and detailed case, around 2003 or 2004 J.D. Carty Resources reportedly drilled a natural gas well where they had not been given the rights. Those rights belonged to the heirs of Ben and Lillian Salyer, who had signed the deed to mineral rights 100 years ago. The well was beyond successful, producing $1.3 million worth of natural gas, even at one point having to evacuate the area around it on Stinson Creek (on Patton Fork). However, the family still hasn’t seen the first dime of the money.

mehr-fairbanks-peterson-wins-15-3-million-jury-verdict-in-magoffin-county
An insurance company ordered by a Magoffin County jury to dish out $15.3 million to the heirs of a Saylersville family will appeal, the company’s attorney said, further extending an 11-year legal battle that likely involves the largest bad-faith insurance verdict in the state’s history.

The jury handed down the verdict late last month, compelling the company to pay the heirs of a family that owned mineral rights for a Magoffin County property where two drilling companies wrongfully extracted about $1.3 million of natural gas more than a decade ago, according to documents filed in the case.

In 2007, about 80 people who inherited mineral rights to the property brought the case against natural gas drilling companies J.D. Carty Resources, LLC., and Anaconda Drilling, LLC., for wrongfully extracting and selling natural gas from the land, according to court records.

what-is-general-anxiety-disorder-gad

Anxiety can manifest in multiple different ways. Generalized anxiety disorder is a common form of anxiety that is classified by the patient experiencing a state of worry and uneasiness, not related to anything, for at least six months.

It is possible to develop generalized anxiety disorder at any age. GAD has similar traits to panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other forms of anxiety, however, they all differ.

Living with GAD can be a challenge every day. In most cases, GAD is accompanied by another anxiety or mood disorder. Normally, GAD improves with medication, diet, and psychotherapy. Mediation and learning other coping skills have also been known to help improve the day-to-day life of most patients.

six-blunders-to-avoid-when-applying-for-erisa-disability-benefits

You need to know what are the common mistakes to watch out for in order to increase your chance of getting ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) long-term disability benefits.

Did you know that you may be eligible to claim long-term disability benefits under ERISA should you be unable to work because of sudden disability? You may actually also enjoy these benefits under an employer-sponsored group insurance plan. However, how you apply for the benefits is critical to get the best possible outcome. You cannot discount that the process in ERISA long-term disability benefits application is fraught with challenges and a simple oversight can adversely affect your chance to get the benefits. As such, it helps to know what to watch out. Even better, consulting an ERISA lawyer in Kentucky will be advantageous to you do not waste any time understanding the complicated process of ERISA benefits.

Avoid These ERISA Disability Missteps

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