Life Insurance Claims Contestability Period
What exactly is the two year contestability period in a Florida life insurance policy? Why is it crucial for both the policyholder and the beneficiary to understand the significance of the contestability period?
Florida’s insurance incontestability law, Fla. Stat. 627.455, states in part, “Every insurance contract shall provide that the policy shall be incontestable after it has been in force during the lifetime of the insured for a period of 2 years from its date of issue except for nonpayment of premiums…” (entire statute below).
The Contestability Statute is Straightforward and Clear
As long as the premiums are paid on time, the statute protects insureds and beneficiaries by limiting the amount of time the insurance company can deny a claim, with some exceptions, to two years. It also helps to ensure the integrity of the life insurance policy to some extent by promoting clarity. In many ways the two year contestability period is analogous to a two year statute of limitations.
Despite the straightforwardness of the two year incontestability statute, policyholders and beneficiaries are often subject to the greedy conduct of multibillion dollar life insurance companies. Whenever possible, these massive companies attempt to deny or dispute a claim. For this reason, it is essential to protect the policyholder’s interests and those of the beneficiary or beneficiaries.
That is why it is advisable to consult with an experienced life insurance claims attorney when any questions or issues arise pertaining to your policy.
What are the Rights of the Life Insurance Company During the First Two Years of the Policy?
A life insurance policy is a contract between an individual and a life insurance company and guarantees monetary benefits to one or more named beneficiaries upon the death of the insured. It is essential, however, for the insured to pay the premiums in a timely manner, as per the policy’s terms, or the insurance company has the right to cancel the policy…which it frequently does. In this case, the insurer may or may not choose to allow the policyholder to enter into a new contract, but if it does, the two year contestability period will start anew. The insurance company has the right to investigate statements made in the application for insurance if a claim is filed during the contestability period (the first 2 years after policy inception) and deny the claim and rescind the policy if it can prove that material misrepresentations where made in the application for insurance.
What Does the Insurance Company Want to Know?
During the first two years of the policy, the insurance company has the right to review and examine all aspects of the application for insurance, including all accompanying documents and information. The company will be looking for material misstatements, outright lies and other falsehoods. These range from failing to disclose a medical condition to providing a false birth date, and everything in between. The insurance company utilizes this information to decide whether to insure the applicant and if so, the cost of the policy. Questions on the application often ask the following type of information:
- Medical – including physical and psychiatric medical histories, hospitalizations, surgeries, present conditions, medications, heart and lung condition, blood pressure, history of liver disease, AIDS, cancer, etc.
- Occupation – is it a sedentary indoor office job, or is it dangerous high risk work such as an electric company lineman? Does it involve dangerous heavy equipment and machinery? Construction tools? Does it involve constant traveling?
- Alcohol and drug use – Is there a present or past history of alcohol and drug abuse? How much does the applicant drink on a daily basis? Does the applicant engage in recreational drugs? Have they ever overdosed? If so, how many times? Are they in a recovery program such as AA or NA? Ever in rehab? How many times, when, etc.
- Tobacco history – does the applicant presently smoke or use other tobacco products, is there a history of tobacco use, and if so, when did he or she stop?
- Sports, hobbies, activities – involved in extreme sports, sky diving, scuba diving, flying, boating, jet-skiing, mountain climbing, etc.? Involved in competitive kickboxing or other combat sports?
- Firearm or other weapons – does the applicant use, handle, collect or store firearms? And/or other dangerous weapons such as knives, bows and arrows?
- Criminal Record – Violence? Is there a history of violence? Assault, battery, domestic violence? Jail, prison, probation?
- Driving history – is there a history of DUI or reckless driving? If so, how recently? Does the applicant race cars? Drive and/or race motorcycles?
- Other – These are just examples. The insurance company may ask many other questions pertaining to various areas in your life.
Insurance Company Cannot Rescind or Cancel the Life Insurance Policy After Two Years in Florida
If a claim is presented during the first 2 years of the life of the policy, the insurance company can deny the claim and rescind the policy if it can prove that material misrepresentations where made in the application for insurance.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].
627.455 Incontestability.—Every insurance contract shall provide that the policy shall be incontestable after it has been in force during the lifetime of the insured for a period of 2 years from its date of issue except for nonpayment of premiums and except, at the option of the insurer, as to provisions relative to benefits in event of disability and as to provisions which grant additional insurance specifically against death by accident or accidental means.