Support Salvation Army Wildfire Relief

Do you really have life insurance?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OKLAHOMA CITY-- Linda Motley spends a lot of time with her friends these days.  They keep her going after the death of her husband from a heart attack 4 years ago.

His death was hard enough,  but then his life insurance company balked at paying out his full policy.

 "Oh I was devastated. I was grieving for him, but still everything stopped. No money coming in.  No nothing. I was in shock but I was mad.  I was mad at my husband because he'd picked this policy and paid the premium upteen million times."

Attorney Tye Smith from Carr and Carr says just like any business, insurance is tied to the economy.

 "So investments are bad for years, they start to look for ways to tighten down and it's just anything you can imagine. We're just seeing them more and more frequently looking for ways to not pay rather than ways to pay.

  That may mean taking a close look at what you put on your original application information, because the insurance company probably will.  Smith says they have the right to do that  if you die during the contestability period - which is the 1st 2 years of the policy.

 "What they'll do is gather all your medical records and start picking through them with a fine tooth comb and look at them to see if you can be construed as an inconsistency to a statement made by you on an application."

 "They go through the medical records and they see where so and so complained of shortness of breath - well oh that looks like they must have had heart problems and so they just deny it."

Smith says he also sees a lot of payout disputes over alleged "Mental illness"

 "Let's say they had a child get killed in an accident a year ago or so.  They go into their family doctor and say I'm having trouble sleeping at night. The doctor gives them something to help them sleep. Later on they pass away and spouse files a claim and they say well no they misrepresented the facts here."

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak says honesty is always the best policy for those getting life insurance.

 "Anytime you're putting your name on a life insurance policy your stating these facts are true and accurate.  You have to take those questions very seriously."

He also tells us at this point he's unaware of a rise in life insurance claim denials.

 "We have not heard this so if they're any consumers watching this who have more specific questions we learn about these from consumers right?"

As for Motley, she didn't take no for an answer.Sshe got an attorney,  fought and won her pay-out. She warns policy holders to check out their insurance company.

  "Make sure they're good and they pay, because there is so much fraud out there."

But there is some good news, which is once the 2 year contestability period is over, in most cases, claims will be paid out no matter what.  If you feel that you may have omitted some information on your application for, you can go back to the company and let them know.  It could change your rate, but at least you know you'll be covered.