ERISA

DL Law Group attorneys are ERISA and long term disability experts. 

If you have never heard of ERISA—the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974—count yourself as being very fortunate.  ERISA is now used by insurance companies nationwide to shield bad faith claims handling procedures and deprive insureds of their long term disability benefits.  ERISA is also used by health insurers to avoid paying for services and treatments that are clearly covered under the relevant policies.  On top of all this, ERISA is used to deny Americans their due process rights, including the right to a jury trial.  Did you know that if your claim is governed by ERISA you may never have the chance to tell a judge your story. . .or have your doctor explain why you are disabled. . . or get crucial information from your insurer?  Even worse, showing that your insurer acted unreasonably is often not enough—you have to establish that the company acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it handled your claim.  This is a very high standard, more so for those who are unaware of ERISA’s many pitfalls.  Fortunately, a small number of attorneys throughout the United States are very familiar with ERISA and know how to fight on your behalf.  DL Law Group attorneys are among this important group.

How did ERISA get this way?  The ERISA that we see today is a far cry from the law that Congress passed in 1974.  Back then, ERISA was enacted primarily to protect retiring workers’ pensions from unscrupulous managers.  It had very little to do with insurance companies.  But, thanks to a 1987 United States Supreme Court decision named Pilot Life Insurance Company v. Dedeaux, ERISA now governs all employee benefits—life insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, and more—and “preempts” state laws that would otherwise be enforceable against an insurance company.   This “preemption” means that an insurer cannot be liable in bad faith for an improper claims denial. . . that insureds will not be compensated for the emotional and financial distress caused by a wrongful claim denial. . . and that the insurer will never face the prospect of a punitive damages award to deter it from further unlawful conduct.  In one now-famous memo that was uncovered by DL Law Group attorney Alice J. Wolfson, Esq., UnumProvident, the country’s largest disability insurer stated that is would save millions of dollars if it could avoid state laws by successfully bringing certain claims under the reach of ERISA.

For more information on ERISA, and to see whether or not your claim is governed by ERISA, contact the DL Law Group for a free assessment.  Always remember: just because your insurer says your claim is governed by ERISA does not make it true. 

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