In the states of New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, insurance companies have two years from the date a life insurance policy is issued to contest its validity. This “contestability” period affords insurers the opportunity to investigate any potential misrepresentations on the insured’s policy application. If the application is found to contain errors or omissions which are “material,” the insurance company will declare the policy void and refuse payment.
What constitutes a “material misrepresentation” is a legal question which has been extensively litigated by Trief & Olk. In general terms, for a misrepresentation to be material, it must be of sufficient consequence to have influenced the insurer in determining whether to issue the policy in the first place. The insurance company will argue that given the withheld information, they would have either refused the policy outright or issued it under a higher premium.
Whether a misrepresentation is material is seldom a clear cut answer. At Trief & Olk, we have successfully handled misrepresentations initially deemed “material” by the insurance company, such as misstatements as to one’s net worth, omissions of prescription pain medications, and failures to disclosure medical conditions.
If you have been denied an insurance policy due to an alleged “material misrepresentation,” it is important for you to contact an attorney to determine whether the rejection has merit.