In a recent decision issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia – Atlanta Division, the Court found that an insurance policy taken out on the life of Kelly Douglas Couch and issued by Jackson National Life Insurance Company was void ab initio as “an illegal human life wager.” In a lengthy, 24-page opinion, the Court made a variety of factual findings in reaching its conclusion that the life policy was void.  Relying upon Clements v. Terrell,  167 Ga. 237 (1928), the Court concluded that the “focus of this Court’s inquiry is Mr. Couch’s intent at the time of his procurement of the Policy.” The Court concluded that Jackson National Life Insurance Company had met its burden of proof, and held that based on a “preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Couch intended to enter into a wagering contract at the time he procured the Policy. As such, the Policy is void ab initio as an unlawful wagering contract under Georgia law.” You can read the Court’s full opinion here.

Over the past few years a number of life insurers have raised annual cost of insurance charges (COI) in ways that many consumers once thought impossible.  For the most part, COI increases have targeted flexible premium universal life policies – the kind of life insurance policies that the insurance industry marketed as retirement savings vehicles.  Now, it turns out that flexible premiums are not so flexible after all.  Life insurance companies such as AXA, Voya Financial, Tranamerica, and William Penn/Banner have increased COI charges on universal life policies by as much as 200% sending shock waves through retirement communities across the nation and irking the life settlement industry, the secondary market purchasers of life insurance policies.

While the insurance companies point to contractual provisions in their policies permitting these increases as a justification for the hefty premium increases, more scrutiny is required and will inevitably follow.  Some of the recent lawsuits allege discrimination; others highlight the insurance industries infatuation with “shadow insurance” – a sneaky way for insurers to hold fewer assets in reserve by transferring liabilities to wholly owned captive insurers located in “regulation light” jurisdiction.

If you own a universal life policy and were suddenly hit with an unreasonably large premium increase contact us at (203) 504-8425 or via email at eddie@edwardstonelaw.com.  We may be able to help.