Life insurance applications are not the easiest documents to read or understand. They can be long and repetitive. They can have tiny, fine print that is very difficult to make out. Even if you can read the thing, it may be nothing but a sea of legalese.


But buried in that fine print and legalese can be important terms. Terms that can force you to provide information about trivial health issues you might have had in the past. They can ask you to disclose practically anything. They can require you to tell the insurance company if there are any changes in your health before your coverage is approved.


And what if you miss something? What if you miss a word or forget about that time you had that minor illness and got sent home? What happens if you get sick after you complete the application and do not say anything? What if you make an innocent mistake?


At first, probably nothing. The insurance company will issue your policy and take your money. They will keep your application from you, so you never see it again after you initially filled it out. This can go on for years, and you will believe nothing is wrong, and your loved ones are secure in the event of your death.


Eventually, however, you will pass away, and your beneficiary will make a claim for life insurance benefits. That is when the insurance company goes over your application with a fine-tooth comb. They will argue that you committed fraud when you completed the application, or that you failed to follow the hidden terms buried in the legalese. They will cancel the policy after your death, and your beneficiary will be denied life insurance benefits.


This is fundamentally unfair. Fortunately, states have wised up. They have passed laws designed to stop insurance companies from cancelling life insurance applications in this way. In Missouri, if you are enrolled in a group life insurance policy—usually through your employer—the insurance company has to give you a copy of your completed application. This gives you the chance to correct any mistakes in it, as well as make yourself aware of any hidden requirements buried in the fine print.


If you do not receive your application, the insurance company cannot use your statements in it to deny benefits. And if they cannot use your statements against you, then they have no evidence you committed fraud or failed to follow hidden terms.


So if you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and they deny you benefits because of something in the application, find out if they ever sent the insured person a copy of his or her application.


If the application was never provided as required by law, we may be able to reverse the insurance company’s denial and get the life insurance benefits for you.

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