Cozen O’Connor: Life Insurance & Annuities

Life Insurance & Annuities

Recent News:

Cozen O'Connor’s Life Insurance & Annuities Group Named One of the Top Lateral Hires of 2018

The Cozen O'Connor Life Insurance and Annuities Group was named by The Legal Intelligencer one of the Top Lateral Hires of 2018 after joining the firm in April 2018.


Our life insurer clients depend on us to provide counsel and to litigate issues surrounding life insurance products in federal and state courts across the country. Our group’s experience includes, among other things, counseling clients and litigating issues regarding:

  • Bad faith and other extracontractual claims — Our team regularly litigates cases that include bad faith and other extracontractual claims; we have been handling these kinds of issues since the days when they were unusual to encounter. We know how to manage preliminary motions, discovery, and trial best to eliminate or reduce exposure. We also assist carriers in identifying claims best practices to reduce exposure.
  • Brokers and Agents — We are particularly experienced in the range of issues and litigation that can arise from agent/broker compensation disputes, improper policy placements, mishandling of client funds, fraud, and other misconduct by producers, be they broker or agents. We understand and know how to manage the tension that can exist between maintaining relationships with producers and not ending up with liability for their conduct.
  • Foreign death claims — We frequently assist in investigating and litigating claims arising from foreign deaths.
  • Foreign nationals — We advise life insurers on the unique issues that can arise from sales of policies to foreign nationals.
  • Identity fraud — Our practice has broad and deep experience in identifying and combatting the seemingly constantly evolving misuse of identity data (such as social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and names) to improperly procure policies on lives different than those disclosed in applications. This experience includes the special issues that can be implicated in situations involving groups of policies, applicants, and putative insureds. In addition, our annuity company clients use this experience to identify and recover improper receipt of annuity benefits after the deaths of annuitants.
  • Insurance department investigations and proceedings — We advise life insurance and annuity companies on responses to the range of issues that might be raised by or with a regulator — everything from fraud reporting to responses to policyholder complaints, to agent/broker issues, and many other similar issues.
  • Lapses — We are thoroughly familiar with statutory requirements, and often advise clients on proper lapse procedures, including the impact of coverage protection guarantees, in the settings of individual policy issues. We also provide this assistance on a product-wide basis. Finally, we have litigated lapse issues for decades.
  • Material misrepresentations — We counsel life insurance carriers on claims arising from misrepresentations about age, health, financial, and other material matters, including the frequently sensitive management of contestable claim investigations; when necessary, we litigate claims concerning such misrepresentations to successful conclusions.
  • Payment Issues — We regularly counsel clients on payment and beneficiary issues. If necessary, we file interpleader actions on behalf of life insurance carriers and are routinely awarded attorneys’ fees in such matters.
  • Policy values and premium changes — For decades, we have been on the front line in defending life insurers in cases arising out of changes in premium rates and policy values. Although these cases, like most others, are usually resolved before verdict or judgment, we have a strong record of winning those that cannot or will not settle.
  • Prompt payment statutes — We are experienced in the gamut of these issues, ranging from applicability of such statutes to their impact upon claims procedures and particular claims, to litigation of issues implicating prompt payment requirements.
  • STOLI and other secondary market issues — When it comes to this critical sort of litigation, we wrote the book on it — and we are still doing so. The first STOLI case to go to verdict was tried by a member of our team. The now established rule that a life insurer that is the victim of application fraud may void the policy and yet keep the premium was also set in a case handled by one of our lawyers. In recent years, we have continued to make the law in cases establishing the lack of an insurable interest in policies manufactured by prominent “programs.” We have also been at the forefront in establishing the right of carriers to challenge the validity of STOLI policies after the expiration of the contestability period. 
  • Suspicious deaths — We are regularly hired to assist life insurers around the country in reacting to (and sometimes litigating) death claims that raise questions such as the role of an imposter, missing persons and similar insufficiency of proof of death, suicides, and slayer’s acts.



"Recycled Annuities" a Bad Alternative for Funding a Structured Settlement

December 18, 2018

Stephen Harris, a member in the firm's Life Insurance & Annuities Practice, authored, "Recycled Annuities" a Bad Alternative for Funding a Structured Settlement."

Third Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment In Favor of Secondary Market Buyers on Breach of Contract Claim [Alert]

December 04, 2018

Stephen Harris discusses the Third Circuit's decision in the Wall case and why recycled payment streams present serious risks to investors.

Court Dismisses Claims Alleging Undisclosed Deductions from Structured Settlement Funds [Alert]

October 24, 2018

Lisa Stern and Mike Miller discuss a number of attempts to hold casualty carriers and annuity issuers liable for allegedly failing to disclose deductions from the amounts used to purchase structured settlement annuities for plaintiffs’ benefit. Each case has met with varying results but serves as a reminder of the pitfalls and exposure to the insurance industry at the point of settlement.

Federal Court Upholds Policy Approved Under the Interstate Insurance Compact [Alert]

October 24, 2018

Lisa Stern and Michael Miller discuss the first decision to directly address the question whether an interstate compact that is not congressionally approved may delegate authority to an interstate body to promulgate regulations that trump conflicting law in the compact states.

Texas Court Dismisses Factoring Company’s Broad Declaratory Judgment Claims Against Annuity Owner and Issuer [Structured Settlements Alert]

August 29, 2018

Stephen Harris discusses a Texas Court's ruling In the Matter of: A Transfer of Structured Settlement Payment Rights by Shantel D. Freelon, RSL Funding, LLC, Plaintiff v. J.G. Wentworth Originations, LLC, Defendant.

Calif. Life Insurers Get Relief From Unclaimed Property Law [Law360]

July 30, 2018

Andrew Kay and Randy Seybold, members in the firm's Commercial Litigation Department, co-authored, "Calif. Life Insurers Get Relief From Unclaimed Property Law" for Law360.

California Controller Enjoined from Enforcing Invalid Regulations on Life Insurers [Commercial Litigation Alert]

July 24, 2018

Andrew Kay and Randy Seybold discuss the California Superior Court decision that the California controller had improperly promulgated two regulations imposing requirements on life insurers under the UPL.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

The Perils of “Recycled Annuities”

April 04, 2019 - Charleston, SC

STOLI: It’s Not Over, Not Even Close

April 01, 2019 - Boston, MA

The Association of Life Insurance Counsel 2018 Annual Meeting

May 07, 2018 - Half Moon Bay, California

In The News

Cozen O'Connor’s Life Insurance & Annuities Group Named One of the Top Lateral Hires of 2018

March 23, 2019

The Cozen O'Connor Life Insurance and Annuities Group was named by The Legal Intelligencer one of the Top Lateral Hires of 2018 after joining the firm in April 2018.

Cozen O’Connor Expands Commercial Litigation Practice in Philadelphia with Group from Drinker Biddle

April 26, 2018

Cozen O’Connor announced today that three nationally recognized commercial litigators — Michael J. Miller, Gregory J. Star, and Stephen R. Harris — along with 11 others have left Drinker Biddle to join Cozen O’Connor’s Commercial Litigation practice