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California Supreme Court to Review the Court of Appeal’s Ruling in McHugh v. Protective Life Insurance

In the October 2019 matter, McHugh v. Protective Life Insurance, 40 Cal.App.5th 1166 (2019) (“McHugh”), the California Court of Appeals ruled that Insurance Code Sections 10113.71 and 10113.72 only apply to policies issued or delivered after January 1, 2013.  This was an unfortunate ruling that did not protect insureds who have paid premiums for years and who may become too sick to pay a premium, thus allowing a policy lapse at the time the insured needs the life insurance the most.

California Insurance Code Sections 10113.71 and 10113.72 primarily do three things: (1) mandate that life insurance policies issued or delivered in California have a 60-day grace period; (2) set forth notice of pending lapse and termination requirements; and (3) require insurers to provide notice to applicants and annual notice to policyholders of their right to designate someone other than themselves to receive lapse notices. The latter requirement, which applies only to individual life insurance policies, was an important addition to the California Insurance Code because it allows policyholders to designate persons who can receive lapse notices so that if the policyholder is too sick to read a premium notice and/or pay a premium, he may still be protected.  While both statutes went into effect on January 1, 2013, a question remained as to whether these safeguards would apply to life insurance policies issued or delivered prior to January 1, 2013. According to McHugh, the answer to this question was “no.”  However, the California Supreme Court has decided to review the Court of Appeals ruling in McHugh.  Until the Supreme Court makes its determination, McHugh is no longer proper law to be relied upon or cited to in legal proceedings.

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