A 1938, opinion from the Amarillo Court of Appeals helps answer the above question.  The case is styled, Smith v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. et al.

This lawsuit is a contest over the proceeds of a life insurance policy in the sum of $500 issued upon the life of John Wesley Smith by Metropolitan.  At the time the policy was issued the insured was an employee of Southern Pacific Railway Company, but prior to his death, he had been retired by the railway company and collecting a $40 a month pension.

The record reveals that in June, 1927, the insured was married to Jessie Smith, who was plaintiff in the trial court.  Long prior to the issuance of the policy the insured had ceased to live with the Smith, although they were never divorced.  The policy was originally payable to Emaline Bell and Ella White, who were shown by the record to be the nieces of the insured.  In March, 1936, the insured designated his niece, Ella White, as the sole beneficiary in the policy, such designation having been authorized by the terms of the policy.  The contest over the proceeds of the policy was therefore between the Smith, and Ella White joined by her husband, Rolly White.  The insurance company acknowledged its liability upon the policy, paid the $500 into the registry of the court and was therefore discharged with $50 attorney’s fee allowed it as a stakeholder in the controversy.  The trial court rendered judgment for the White, from which judgment Jessie Smith appealed.

What happens when a beneficiary has an insurable interest when the life insurance policy is obtained but later on, that insurable interest no longer exists?  That question is answered in an 1894, opinion from the Texas Supreme Court styled, Cheeves v. Anders.

Anders was the Administrator of the Estate of the deceased, L.B. Chilton.  Chilton and Cheeves were business partners and Chilton took out the life insurance policy for the benefit of Cheeves due to this partnership interest.  Later the partnership was dissolved whereby Chilton sold his interest in the partnership to Cheeves.  The partnership had paid for the life insurance policy.

This Court started its opinion by stating the law in this State. “It is against the public policy of this state to allow any one who has no insurable interest to be the owner of a policy of insurance upon the life of a human being.”

When an employer takes out life insurance on an employee and names itself (the employer) as the beneficiary, it there an insurable interest.  Each case needs to be looked at on its on merits.

A 1998, Tyler Court of Appeals is good case to read.  It is styled, Stillwagoner v. Travelers Insurance Company.

The decedent’s employer procured a policy upon the lives of its employees without their knowledge, and named itself the beneficiary.  The case presents the question of whether the employer had an insurable interest in the life of the decedent, and who is entitled to raise the issue of lack of insurable interest.  Decedents surviving spouse and children contend that Travelers should have paid the $200,000 death benefit to the decedent’s estate, because her employer, Advantage Medical Services, Inc., had no insurable interest in the decedent’s life.  Travelers insists that the beneficiary’s lack of an insurable interest is an issue that can only be raised by the insurance company, and that, in any event, the proceeds were properly paid to the employer because the employer had an insurable interest in the life of its employee.

Bad faith is hard to prove in Texas.  The standards for getting a bad faith judgment are high standards.  But it can be done.  It just depends on the circumstances of the case.

The Telegraph, a Macon Georgia, newspaper published the results of a bad faith case involving Geico insurance.  The article is titled, Federal Jury Finds Geico Acted In Bad Faith, Awards Smiths Station Cyclist $2.763 Million.

Here is what the article tells us.

Here is an interesting case from the 14th Court of Appeals.  It is a 1998, opinion styled, Tamez v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s.

Two employees of a Stop-n-Go (NCS) store were killed while on duty.  NCS, as the employer had life insurance policies on the employees and made a claim for benefits and were paid by Lloyd’s.  The representatives of the estates of the employees sued NCS and Lloyd’s.

Summary judgments were granted in favor of NCS.

Disability claims filed under an ERISA plan are different than disability claims that are not governed by ERISA.  The United State District Court, Northern District, Dallas Division, issued an opinion in 2018, that discusses these types of cases.  The case is styled, Aaron Rome v. HCC Life Insurance Company.

This is a dispute between a former professional hockey player (Aaron) and his insurer (HCC).

Aaron suffered a career ending injury.  He sough benefits under the HCC policy and was denied.  Aaron filed suit in State Court including claims for violations of State law and the case was removed to Federal Court where HCC filed motions to have have the State law claims dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) or in the alternative a motion for summary judgment.

Life Insurance Lawyers can inform their clients that a creditor can have an insurable interest in a life insurance policy.  There is a caveat.  A creditor may designate itself the beneficiary of a policy purchased by it on the life of its debtor, but its insurable interest is limited to the loan balance at the insured’s death; the rest of the policy proceeds belong to the insured’s estate.  This is confirmed in the 1968, Texas Supreme Court opinion styled, McAllen State Bank v. Texas Bank & Trust Co.

The bank asserted rights to the life insurance policy as a beneficiary of the proceeds of the policy in this case.  The insured had pledged policy proceeds as security for the debt.

The assignment or pledge of a policy as security creates a lien on the proceeds on behalf of the assignee.  While some authorities limit the rule, it is generally held that the rights of an assignee under a valid assignment of the policy for security are superior to those of the beneficiary to the extent of the indebtedness secured where the policy provides that insured has the right to change the beneficiary, especially where the beneficiary joins in the assignment; but the beneficiary is entitled to the excess of the proceeds over the amount of the indebtedness secured.

Life insurance lawyers will see fights over who is entitled to life insurance proceeds.  One of the fights is over whether or not the named beneficiary had an insurable interest in the life of the insured.

The main case cited for dealing with this issue is a 1942, Texas Supreme Court opinion styled, Drane v. Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co.

In the Drane case, Harry E. Ezell, Jr. was named as the beneficiary under two policies insuring the life of Dorothy A. Drane.  Hugh Drane, the executor of Dorothy’s estate filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Ezell from recovering the money and for the money to go to Dorothy’s estate.

Not just anybody can be a beneficiary to a particular life insurance policy.  The person must have an insurable interest.

A 1894, Texas Supreme Court case styled, Cheeves v. Anders, makes clear that it is well settled that a life insurance beneficiary must have an insurable interest in the insured’s life.

The basis for this rule is twofold: 1) no one should have a financial inducement to take the life of another; and 2) a life insurance policy for the benefit of one without an insurable interest is a wagering contract.  (It should be pointed out there are legal ways to have a life insurance policy on another).

The law in Texas is pretty clear, an insurance company is entitled to received a notice before a lawsuit is filed.  This is recently illustrated in a Southern District, Houston Division, opinion styled, Jose Luis Perrett v. Allstate Insurance Company.

This is a dispute arising out of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.  Perrett sued Allstate and Allstate moved to have the case abated due to Perrett’s failure to comply with Texas Insurance Code, Section 542A.003, which requires a presuit notice.  The Court granted Allstate’s motion.

542A.003 says: