Can insurance deny settlement after insured has passed away?
My Mother passed away on May 5, 2016 at age 85 and finally Framer's Insurance is settling her uninsured motorist claim (she was in an accident prior to her passing). Her attorney sent me the UM/UIM Trust Agreement and Release in Full Statement to sign and send back to him.
This is right after he told me today, that because my mother has since died Farmer's may not want to settle the claim or may drastically reduce her claim. This, after we had to get a loan to pay off her credit card bills she accumulated because of her accident.
My mother has had Farmers Insurance on both her home and auto for years. She paid her premiums assuming she was going to be treated in fairness and honesty by her insurer, and expecting her insurer to perform as her fiduciary agent because this is what she paid for. Instead she had to get an attorney to help her through all the quagmire to fight her own insurance company.
As Farmer's kept delaying her claim, she racked up thousands of dollars on her credit cards to pay for extra help to perform the basic functions she was doing all on her own before the accident. This accident severely impacted her ability to work and create income.
Because of her injury to her dominate hand, she had to decline work as a caregiver and resend her contract with the EF Student because she could no longer cook for them. Right after the accident, she paid her sister to cook for the student so she would not lose the contract, but when it became too difficult for her, she eventually had to let them go.
It really angers me as I pour through her finances, I can see that this accident caused a ripple effect with my mother's finances and with every turn she became further in debt. It would have made such a difference in her life if she could have use this money to make her life easier and less stressful while she was recuperating from her accident.
Who knows, she might even be here today. My mother thought she had coverage that would take care of her if she were in an accident, whether the person driving the vehicle was insured or not. What happened was, she had to fight, every step of the way to get what she thought she paid for all these years.
Now my mother is gone and I believe that is what Farmers was waiting for. Withholding this settlement claim to gain a financial advantage for their bottom line.
I want to know what I can do to get the full amount owed to my mother to pay off the loan we had to get. How do we pursue Farmer's for this? Can the insurance company really drastically reduce the payout or deny it completely because my mother is now passed? This seems wrong to me. Thank you for any information you can provide.
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ANSWER for "Can insurance deny settlement after insured has passed away?":
Sandra (Kennewick, Washington):
It is our policy here at InjuryClaimCoach.com not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. If you have questions about the payment and dispersal of the insurance amount, contact the attorney and make an appointment to visit with him.
Generally speaking, in similar situations insurance companies do not have a legal duty to settle an injury claim at all, or to settle the claim within a specified period of time.
It is entirely up to the victim, or the victim's legal representative, to settle the claim for an amount they believe is fair, or if the insurance company won't do so, then to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations period.
The statute of limitations is the legal period of time in which a victim has to either settle his or her injury claim, or file a lawsuit. After that time, if the claim is not settled or a lawsuit filed, the victim loses his or her legal right to seek compensation from the negligent party.
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in the State of Washington is three years from the date of injury. See Washington Revised Code, Section 4.16.080
In your Mother's case, the statute of limitations period may have been impending. The insurance company could have easily refused to settle the claim knowing your mother would not be around to testify in a trial. That sounds harsh, but insurance companies are businesses, and as such, it's usually all about the money.
While your frustration is well-founded in your implied assertion Farmers was dealing in bad faith, there is no evidence Farmers crossed that line.
Unfortunately, the insurance company can not be held liable for the amounts of debt your Mother accrued. Moreover, you have no legal right to have Farmers pay the entire amount of your mother's loan balance, as well as other debts.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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