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When you get your life insurance set up, it is a relief.  It is one item on your list you can check off, knowing that when you or your loved ones pass away, your family will be taken care of.  All you need to do is keep up with your monthly or annual premiums, or rely on a plan provided through your employer.  Life insurance providers, however, have other ideas.  Like all insurance providers, they are looking for any way to protect their bottom line, which sometimes means limiting, delaying, or rejecting payouts.  When life insurance companies like John Hancock Life Insurance Company refuse to pay you the benefits you are owed, you need a strong, sturdy legal hand in your corner to protect your rights.

John Hancock is a well-known name in the life insurance field.  However, they have come under fire in recent years for undertaking shady practices in order to deny life insurance claims that should rightfully be paid under the policies they issue.  If your life insurance claim has been denied by John Hancock or another California life insurance provider, the professional and effective California life insurance denial lawyers at Gianelli & Morris are here to help you get the benefits you are owed.

John Hancock’s Bad Faith Practices

John Hancock Life Insurance Company is the seventh-largest life insurance provider in the United States.  They provide life insurance, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, annuities, and long-term care insurance.  Recently, policyholders filed a class action alleging that John Hancock used underhanded tactics to avoid payouts on a whole host of life insurance claims.

According to the allegations, John Hancock “knowingly and repeatedly” failed to provide policyholders with the annual notice they are required to provide under California law.  The annual notice gives policyholders the chance to designate a third party to receive notice of potential termination of benefits for non-payment.  The notice is meant to help elderly, disabled, and ill individuals who might not be able to comprehend that their policy is lapsing, or who may miss a payment accidentally.  It is extremely common for older people (who, of course, are more likely to trigger a policy) to miss a payment.  The notice ensures that someone of sound mind will hear about the missed payment before the policy lapses and ensure that they have the chance to correct the error.  Because John Hancock failed to provide the annual notice, many policies lapsed as a result of missed payments.  The company then refused to pay out on life insurance claims that would have been valid had the policies not been inappropriately allowed to lapse.

If John Hancock denied your life insurance claim based on an alleged lapse of your policy, you might have the right not only to the coverage you paid for, but also for additional damages if their conduct was in bad faith.  If your policy lapsed because John Hancock failed to send your loved one their annual notice required by statute or failed to send you a notice of the impending lapse, then the policy lapsed through no fault of your own or your loved one.  Speak with a life insurance denial attorney to explore your options and find out how you can claim the coverage that you deserve under the policy that you paid for and on which you relied.

The Two-Year Contestability Period

Letting a policy lapse under suspicious circumstances is not the only way in which life insurance companies deny claims.  Sometimes, they try to rely on the power of rescission.  Under certain circumstances, a life insurance provider can cancel or “rescind” a life insurance policy.  Rescission of the policy is different from rejecting a claim:  Rather than alleging a claim is not covered by the policy, the insurance company says that there are grounds to invalidate the policy entirely.  If they have proper grounds to rescind the policy, they will not pay out on a claim, but they will refund any premiums paid on the policy to date.

Rescission is typically based on misstatements in the insurance application.  The life insurance company claims that the policy should not have been issued because it was based on erroneous information given by the policyholder in their application, such as their medical history, their family history, or their daily habits.

Importantly, life insurance policies can only be rescinded within the “contestability period” established by state law.  The contestability period in California is two years from the date of issuance or reinstatement of the policy.  Outside of that time period, an insurance claim must be paid if covered by the policy, regardless of whether the policyholder omitted information on their application.  Insurance providers like to trick policyholders into signing a policy reinstatement by adjusting the terms of a policy, which technically restarts the contestability clock; watch out for these efforts to avoid having your coverage denied after the death of a loved one.

Call Gianelli & Morris if John Hancock Wrongfully Denied Your Life Insurance Claim

Life insurance providers like John Hancock are required to pay out claims owed under their policies as drafted.  They have only limited legal grounds under which to deny a claim, and many of those grounds only apply if the policy is triggered within two years of the policy going into effect.  If your life insurance claim has been wrongfully rejected, you have the right to push back against the denial and fight for your right to the coverage you are owed.

If your loved one has passed and your life insurance claim has been denied by John Hancock or another California life insurance provider, contact the seasoned and effective Los Angeles insurance denial lawyers Gianelli & Morris for a no-cost evaluation of your claim at 213-489-1600.

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