Can my employer cancel my supplemental life insurance for a pre-exising heart condition?

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Can my employer cancel my supplemental life insurance for a pre-exising heart condition?

I’ve been employed with a communications company for over 35 years. In 2008, I was diagnosed with heart failure. All years prior to 2008, as well as, subsequent years (2009 and 2010) I retained a supplemental life insurance policy paid for by the company. This year during open enrollment I was denied the supplemental life insurance for 2011. The denial was attributed to my heart failure. Is the company within it’s rights to do so? And how can they deny me for year 2011 when I was excepted for 2009 and 2010?

Asked on November 3, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The real question is most likely not whether or not your employer can cancel the policy, but whether the insurer can--underwriting and qualification decisions are typically made by insurers, not the employers who provide the benefits. It may be the case that given your age and heart condition, you are no longer considered a good risk by the insurer. Insurers have a great deal of discretion in terms of whether they issue life insurance policies; unlike health insurance, there is relatively little regulation of who must be offered life insurance. You might first contact the insurer, either directly or through the intermediation of your employer, and inquire further of them to (1) confirm whether it was them who turned you down, or whether, against all expectations, it was your employer somehow; (2) exactly why--i.e., what changed?; and (3) is there any way to reinstate your coverage.


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