Court Finds Regional Claims Administrator Qualifies as a “Managing Agent” of an Insurance Company, Justifying an Award of Punitive Damages

Posted in: Auto Insurance, Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Duty to Settle, Insurance Litigation Blog, Punitive Damages May 29, 2019

When insurance companies, including those offering disability, life, health or accidental death policies, engage in conduct that is sufficiently egregious, a court may award punitive damages against the insurance company.  California Civil Code Section 3294 (“Section 3294”) provides that where the defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud or malice, the plaintiff may recover punitive damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.  If the defendant is a corporation, such as an insurance company, the defendant is liable for punitive damages if the act of oppression, fraud or malice was authorized or ratified by an officer, director or managing agent of the corporation or if the officer, director or managing agent was personally guilty of such …

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Los Angeles Daily Journal Publishes Small Firm Profile on the McKennon Law Group PC Entitled “Shifting Allegiance: No Longer Insurers’ Advocates, McKennon Law Group Attorneys Stand Up for Policyholders”

Posted in: Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Disability Insurance, ERISA, Health Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Legal Articles, Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, News, Retirement Plans May 10, 2018

In the May 7, 2018 issue of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Daily Journal Staff Writer Melanie Brisbon authored a “small firm profile” article on the McKennon Law Group PC.  The article covers the firm’s path to success, starting with its unconventional background: several of the firm’s attorneys left established careers defending insurance companies before “shifting allegiance” to represent insureds, policyholders and claimants.  The firm started with three lawyers, including founding partner Robert J. McKennon and senior associate Scott E. Calvert.  Now, the firm consists of five attorneys and has a thriving practice in insurance litigation representing policyholders, especially involving life, health and disability insurance cases governed by insurance bad faith or ERISA.  The text portion of the profile is …

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Bad Faith Claims Handling: California Department of Insurance Investigates Aetna’s Health Claim Denials

Posted in: Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Health Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, Legal Articles February 21, 2018

On our blog, we frequently discuss the improper tactics insurers use to deny legitimate claims for life, health, disability and other forms of insurance. For our latest article on the pervasive problem in health insurance claims denials, see https://mslawllp.com/la-times-report-pervasive-problem-of-improper-health-insurance-denials/. Mckennon Law Group PC has had much experience litigating against health insurers who deny legitimate medical claims. We know this is a rampant problem. So, it was not shocking to us that at least one very large health insurer, Aetna, took highly improper actions to deny medical insurance claims.

On February 12, 2018, the California Department of Insurance (“CDI”) issued a press release confirming its investigation of Aetna, one of the largest health insurance providers in the U.S. California Insurance …

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Court Rejects Third Party Administrator's Demurrer to Insurance Bad Faith Claim Based on Plaintiffs' Theory of Joint Venture Liability

Posted in: Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Non-ERISA January 24, 2018

Implied in every insurance contract is a promise of “good faith and fair dealing,” which means that the insurer must not take unreasonable steps to prevent an insured’s right to receive benefits under the policy. To comply with its promise to act in good faith, the insurer must adhere to certain duties, such as the duty to adequately investigate a claim made by an insured. An insurer acts in bad faith when it fails to meet those duties unreasonably and without proper cause. Determining whether there has been bad faith conduct is important, in part, because it directly affects the insured’s potential recovery. If the insurer is found to have acted in bad faith, the insured may have access to …

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Top 8 Tips for When You Take Your Insurer to Court

Posted in: Accidental Death or Dismemberment, Breach of Contract, Insurance Bad Faith, Life Insurance, Non-ERISA November 29, 2017

If you have a claim that has been wrongfully denied or are currently in the claims handling process, it is important to always keep in mind the potential impact of your conduct on future litigation. When dealing with a sophisticated insurance company, you want to put your best claim forward and be prepared for the potential need to file a lawsuit. In this article, we discuss our top eight tips for when you take your insurer to court, from the importance of hiring an attorney with relevant experience to preparing for the long haul that is litigation against an insurance company.

1. Hire an attorney with experience in insurance litigation who actually goes to trial.
This may seem like a …

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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Church Plan ERISA Exemption

Posted in: Bad Faith, Benefits, Breach of Contract, Church Plans, Disability Insurance, ERISA, Government Plans, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts June 09, 2017

The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, otherwise known as ERISA, protects employees from unanticipated losses in retirement or pension plans.  As we have discussed in several articles on the topic, ERISA safeguards such plans by establishing strict protections and requirements on the administration of most employer-sponsored health, disability, life, retirement and other employee benefits plans.  However, ERISA does not govern all employer-sponsored benefit plans.  In general, ERISA carves out exemptions for those plans established or maintained by a government or church entity.

Just a few days ago, in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, the United States Supreme Court determined a significant question affecting pension plans run by church-affiliated hospitals.  As we predicted months ago, the …

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Life Insurer on the Hook for Breaching Terminated Contract

Posted in: Breach of Contract, Case Updates, Class Actions, Insurance Litigation Blog, Life Insurance May 11, 2017

Life, health and disability insurers, whether governed by ERISA or state insurance bad faith laws, often do not have your best interests in mind, despite what the law requires of them.  Insurers, like other businesses, are motivated by profits.  Sometimes that drive leads to crossing legal, ethical or moral lines to improve the bottom-line.  That is what occurred in a recent pro-policyholder Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal case, Burnett v. Conseco Life Insurance Company, 2017 WL 1828145 (9th Cir. May 4, 2017) (reversing the district court decision found at 87 F. Supp. 3d 1238 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 9, 2015)).  In that case, applying California state insurance bad faith laws, the Ninth Circuit held a life insurer cannot completely absolve …

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When and Why Government Plans are not Governed by ERISA

Posted in: Bad Faith, Breach of Contract, Church Plans, Disability Insurance, ERISA, Health Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Litigation Blog, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, Property & Casualty Insurance February 24, 2017

The McKennon Law Group PC periodically publishes articles on its California Insurance Litigation Blog that deal with related issues in a series of articles dealing with insurance bad faith, life insurance, long-term disability and short-term disability insurance, annuities, accidental death insurance, ERISA, and other areas of the law.  To speak with a highly skilled Los Angeles long-term disability insurance lawyer at the McKennon Law Group PC, call (949)387-9595 for a free consultation or visit our website at www.mckennonlawgroup.com and complete a free consultation form.

Determining what law governs your health, life, or disability insurance claim is the first step in the process of defending a wrongfully denied claim.  Generally speaking, if you have a denied life, disability or health insurance …

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Mistreated by Your Insurer? Insurers May Not Be Able to Hide Behind ERISA Preemption to Defeat Claims for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Posted in: Breach of Contract, Disability Insurance, Disability Insurance News, ERISA, Health Insurance, Insurance Litigation Blog, Life Insurance, News, Preemption November 30, 2015

Insureds obligingly pay premiums on their life, health and disability insurance policies and dutifully provide updated information upon request by their insurers, but often do not enjoy the same courtesy when they file an insurance claim.  In extreme cases, antagonistic insurers engage in a host of tactics, including appointing claims examiners who refuse to return phone calls, conducting intrusive surveillance, accusing insureds of filing false claims or inundating the insured’s employer and treating doctors with document demands—only to deny the insured’s claim.  Astonished by this treatment, many insureds wonder if they can sue them for emotional distress damages.  The short answer is yes—but there are hurdles.…

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Group Life Insurer’s Literal Policy Interpretation Penalizing Insured for not working on Paid Holiday Rejected

Posted in: Breach of Contract, Case Updates, Life Insurance, Policy Interpretation September 08, 2015

Group life insurance policies often have confusing language about when they become effective. A trial court recently interpreted one to mean that the policy had not become effective to a full-time employee, though he was already eligible for the coverage, because he was not physically present at work when the policy was issued to his employer. Instead he was at home for a paid holiday and then in the hospital on sick-leave because of a sudden and fatal illness. The insurer and trial court penalized the employee for taking his paid holiday and sick-leave. They docked him the life insurance proceeds for which he had paid. The dispute centered around the policy’s “effective date of coverage” provision: whether being a …

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