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California class action suit spotlights insurance coverage denials

Hartford Life principals argue that they're simply trying to inject some common sense and boundaries regarding reasonable parameters germane to a key contract provision in select life insurance contracts inked with California policyholders.

State class action plaintiffs advance an alternative position, grounded in a quote from one claimant that he and fellow class members were "deceived and left hung out to dry with no protection" by the mega national insurer following its wrongful interpretation of key policy language.

The starkly polar positions taken by plaintiffs and the defendant insurer in litigation that is now before a California federal judge following its removal from a state court center on a key provision in life insurance contracts offered by Hartford Life that waive premiums upon a showing of disability.

What that means is this: Those contracts enable subscribers who are adjudged disabled to continue their policies without having to pay further on their contracts.

And that is precisely what plaintiffs say they should be able to do if Hartford Life merely abides by state statutory law that deigns California residents totally disabled when they cannot carry out "substantial and material duties" relevant to their jobs.

Notwithstanding the California enactment, Hartford has been denying premium waivers to policyholders that it claims can perform work at some -- even a minimal -- level.

"Hartford is purposefully ignoring the law in order to deny insurance coverage and reap the financial rewards," says one plaintiffs' advocate.

As noted above, the insurance company counters that it does not see things that way, and is thus defending against many waiver-of-premium claims.

The matter is clearly relevant in California. We'll keep readers posted.

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