A Connecticut federal judge has ruled that it was wrong for an insurer to refuse to pay out a $10 million life insurance policy on a Hartford lawyer who died of brain cancer.
Principal National Life Insurance Co. issued a $10 million term life insurance policy to Larry Coassin on April 26, 2012. The policy was formally issued to the Lawrence P. Coassin Irrevocable Trust.
At the time, Coassin was a partner in the Hartford law firm of Robinson & Cole, where he had a successful corporate and transactional law practice. Coassin died only 15 months after the policy was issued from a rare, very aggressive form of brain cancer. He died within seven months of his diagnosis. He was survived by his wife, Emily, and their two children.
According to court documents, Principal conducted a “contestability review” of the life insurance policy issued to Coassin. This was Principal’s common practice whenever a policyholder died within two years of issuance of a policy.
As part of that review, Principal learned that Coassin had seen an ear, nose and throat specialist who treated his dizziness symptoms at a visit only nine days before they issued Coassin the life insurance policy. Principal did not know about this visit when they issued the policy.
Nathan Berns, a senior underwriter with Principal, determined in October 2013 that the insurer would not have issued the life insurance policy to Coassin, if Principal had known about his visit with the ear, nose and throat specialist. Berns consulted with lawyers before making the determination, according to court documents.
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U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton, seen here, agreed with the plaintiff. (Photo: law.com)
The next day, Principal filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, seeking to rescind the policy.
“As a result of Coassin’s knowing and material misrepresentations and/or omissions as to his medical history on the application, the policy is void ab initio and of no force or effect since its inception, and Principal Life never has nor ever could become liable for the death benefit under the policy,” wrote Principal’s lawyers in the complaint.