Beneficiary Of Life Insurance Policy : Unusual Case

People living in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Mansfield, Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, and other places in Texas who are named beneficiaries under a life insurance policy might find this next case unusual. Here is some background.
This is a United States Northern District case decided in 1999. The style of the case is Benbow v. All American Life Insurance Company.
All American Life Insurance Company and General American Life Insurance Company each insured Daniel Benbow under whole life insurance policies that provided coverage of $100,000. Approximately seven months before Daniel’s death, letters were sent to both carriers requesting cancellation of the policies and further requesting that the carriers remit any accumulated cash value of the policies. Both carriers honored the request and issued checks to Daniel for the current value of the policies. After Daniel’s death, Diana Benbow contacted the carriers and notified them that Daniel suffered from a bipolar disorder, and she requested that the carriers deem the cancellation of the policies to be invalid. The carriers contended that the policies had been surrendered, and refused to pay the claim for benefits. Diana then sued both carriers in state court alleging breach of contract, violations of the Texas Insurance Code and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). The carriers removed the case to federal district court. Thereafter, the carriers moved for summary judgment on all causes of action.
In making a ruling the court stated that the motions for summary judgment are granted. With regard to the cause of action on the Texas Insurance Code, late payment of claims alleged violation, both insurance carriers established that they timely acknowledged the claim for benefits.
With regard to the breach of contract claim, the carriers had introduced an affidavit of Linda Collins, a document examiner, in support of their motions. Collins testifies in the affidavit that based on her examination of the cancellation request letters, it is her opinion that Diana was the author of Daniel’s signature on the letters. Diana has not offered any competent controverting evidence. Diana’s testimony that she does not recall signing the letters does not create a fact issue. Since the evidence shows that Diana signed the letters requesting cancellation of the policies, she is now estopped from asserting that the surrenders should be voided. She has also waived any right to make any claim under the policies.
The cause of action for violations of the Insurance Code and the DTPA are based upon the carriers’ failure to pay benefits under the terms of the policies. To the extent the extra-contractual claims are based upon the denial of the claim, the Court found that the carriers had a reasonable basis for rejecting the claim for the reasons stated herein. Therefore, those causes of action fail as a matter of law.
Diana also claims that the carriers made misrepresentations to her concerning the claim for benefits. However, since the alleged misrepresentations were made after Daniel had died, the misrepresentations could not, as a matter of law, be the cause of the damages now claimed by Diana.
This a strange case. It appears that Diana was trying to cash in on the money that was built up in the life insurance policies and then when Daniel died, she wished she hadn’t done so and tried to get it reversed. It does not appear that Diana or her attorney were able to find a handwriting expert to say the signatures were not Diana’s.
This case should not be read to show that had things occurred as Diana alleges that she would have been successful. But without knowing more facts, it would not be fair to say one way or the other.

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