Cindy Speaker: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Cindy Speaker. I have with me today attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Attorneys at Law. And, David, how are you doing?
David Daggett: Hi, Cindy. I’m doing great, Cindy. How are you?
Cindy Speaker: I’m doing great. Always good to talk to you.
David Daggett: Yes, yes.
Cindy Speaker: Well, David, we’re going to talk about life insurance today, and let’s just start at the very beginning. What exactly is life insurance?
David Daggett: Well, life insurance, I mean, we all kind of know the basics. I like to define life insurance as a promise. Just like any other insurance policy, your homeowners insurance, your automobile insurance, any insurance you have, it’s a promise that if something goes wrong the insurance company’s going to pay. Life insurance is the promise that if the insured person dies, the life insurance is going to pay. So many people, maybe most people, have some form of life insurance to cover themselves. And life insurance is a very unselfish thing because it’s to take care of the people that depend on you, depend on you for care, depend on you for schooling, for income, for any of those sort of things.
David Daggett: And there’s a huge kind of a trauma that we have right now in society, is that people die and there’s not money to take care of the arrangements afterward. And again, life insurance can cover those sort of things so it relieves the burden on your loved ones when you pass away. So life insurance is very, very important. It’s a promise. It’s a contract to pay those who are dependent on you or in need once you pass away of those benefits.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I think it’s so important that … David, I don’t know if this. You do know that my father passed away at a young age. My mom was left with five kids. One of the things he did that, as you said, was very selfless and very precious that he did, he literally had life insurance on appliances, not on the home. So when my mother was left, things like the appliances, the big appliances, the home, everything was paid off through the life insurance. And it was so valuable, because without it, I know that she would have been left in a situation.
David Daggett: And if I can expound a little bit, stop me if I’m getting too personal, but I knew your mother for many, many years. And your mother and father were from a simple background. Simple, hardworking people. They had five children that they were both trying to juggle, discipline and raise. And when the unfortunate occurrence happened with your father, if he was not prudent and didn’t take care of those things in advance, your mother would’ve been in a really, really bad situation.
David Daggett: Now, I’m not trying to minimize it. It was hard for her anyway. But if she didn’t have that insurance in place, it may have been impossible, and she may not have been able to keep her kids.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. It was a tremendous help.
David Daggett: So here’s the issue on life insurance, is literally, in the United States, billions of dollars every year in life insurance goes uncollected. It doesn’t get paid out. And typically, the typical person who is in need of the life insurance is typically older, dependent, maybe doesn’t have all their resources or connections in place in the community, that sort of thing. And it’s very easy to get taken advantage of. So what happens is, the insurance company finds a loophole and the insurance policy, says no, and the beneficiary, whether, Cindy, it’s you, your mom or me, we don’t know what to do or where to go or how to handle it.
David Daggett: And the reason is is because those policies, I mean, if you ever picked up and tried to read the fine print on one of those, I mean, they’re impossible. And so the ordinary person simply can’t sort that out. The good news is, we have expertise within our law firm and we are very, very able to handle, sort out those claims and, quite frankly, have quite a long track record of success in getting denied life insurance claims paid.
Cindy Speaker: That’s excellent.
David Daggett: Very, very, very important for the survivors and people who are depending on those proceeds. I mean, the reason people get life insurance is because others are dependent on those proceeds in order to move forward. And to me, denying those claims that’s … I was going to say an off color word. It’s bad and it’s offensive to me. So pursuing those claims is something that we do, and and if I can, I want to go into something a little bit akin to life insurance. And so lots of times, you see these ads on TV. I mean, there’s a lot of them now that you can get insurance to provide for your death and you don’t need a physical in advance and all that sort of thing. Have you been hearing those commercials?
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely.
David Daggett: Yeah. I mean, they’re all over. And the reason is is because it’s very, very profitable insurance, but a lot of those policies are not life insurance policies. What they are is accidental death policies. So accidental death policy and life insurance policies, they got a lot of similarities. But on one, life insurance, basically you just have to die. Now there’s more to it than that. But on accidental death, you have to die and it has to be due to an accident. Okay? And so unfortunately, because those accidental death policies, you don’t have to have a physical and that sort of thing in advance, they’re less expensive. But what that means is, people who are less fortunate and lower on the socioeconomic spectrum are the people that tend to get those policies.
David Daggett: And so in a way it’s taking advantage of those people. And then, when those claims are denied, they have no idea what to do, where to go, how to handle anything. And the truth is, there are very, very few law firms that have any idea how to handle those types of claims. And we do, and we have handled many accidental death policies that have been denied that we are then able to collect upon. So we’re experienced and very knowledgeable on life insurance policies and accidental death policies. We’ve been able to recover those proceeds for the beneficiaries who desperately needed those proceeds. And literally, like your mother, of the situation your mother would have been in, we’re able to make their life much, much better because of that.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. That’s tremendous. And, David, and I have known you for quite a while, and I know that your firm you’re really in a leadership position in dealing with these life insurance claims. You’ve been doing it for quite a while.
David Daggett: Well, the other thing is, you can’t just call us and say, “Do we have life insurance?” We have no idea on that. However, many people have insurance through their employer. Many people, if you’re traveling and you bought your tickets on your Visa or MasterCard, lots of times there’s life insurance involved in there. So different places to look. So you’ll want to look at those important papers.
David Daggett: The other thing that you see in this day and time is companies being bought and sold and the benefits from one company getting transferred to another company. We’ve handled a number of cases. And by a number, I mean, I’m not talking hundreds but more than two or three, where employee benefits get transferred from company to company. And in the process, unbeknownst to the worker, the transfer of the life insurance paperwork or death benefits paperwork gets horsed up along the way. The beneficiaries never even know it and payment is refused. We’ve been able to go back, sort through that paperwork trail, undo the problem, and then force the insurance company and/or the employer to pay on those benefits that their employee deserved and thought they had.
Cindy Speaker: This quite complicated when you get into it.
David Daggett: I tell people life insurance should be so simple. You die, they pay. Much more complicated than that. Some of the policies that come through your employer, those policies may be covered by the federal ERISA law. So now what you need is an expert or a lawyer with expertise in the area of the life insurance policies. You need a lawyer with expertise in the area of ERISA benefits, and ERISA is an acronym for a long federal law and statute. And you need somebody who’s capable of trying cases in federal court. And I’m just telling you right now, you can look around, you’re not going to find law firms, very many of them, that have those capabilities. We have them.
David Daggett: And in fact, we just concluded a case, and times gets away from me and my old age, but in the last six weeks of a life insurance case through an employer that was denied. And through our insurance expertise, our ERISA expertise, and our federal trial expertise, we were able to get them to pay the entire amount.
David Daggett: But again, it’s complicated. And if you don’t believe me, start calling around law firms and say, “Do you have life insurance expertise? And by the way, do you also have federal ERISA expertise? And do you also have federal court trial expertise?” And you would have a very hard time finding another law firm that has those three areas covered.
Cindy Speaker: David, it’s very interesting that you have such expertise in this area. How did that come about? Because it’s not real typical.
David Daggett: You know this. I am so proud of our team of nine lawyers who are just off the charts. Every single one of them is distinguished in their own right. I’m the weak link in the chain of these folks.
Cindy Speaker: I don’t believe that.
David Daggett: I mean, they got really, really, really good, and a lot of the lawyers had been with our firm for a very, very long time. And we’ve got, and Kathryn will correct me if I’m wrong, but we’ve got one, two, three, four, five, at least five lawyers who’ve been together more than 20 years, which is a long, long time for a team to be together.
Cindy Speaker: Wow. That’s tremendous.
David Daggett: And so we’ve worked together on these cases, and it’s very easy for us. It’s very fluid for us. And the good news is, is it results in very positive results for clients. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. David, what are some of the obstacles that people run into? You mentioned a few, but are there other common obstacles that you see happening?
David Daggett: Well, the common obstacles are sorting through the paperwork, getting stiff armed by the insurance company, and not knowing where to go. In the employment insurance policies through your employer, you have to go down a path, and lots of times it’s like walking on stones through a garden. Sometimes the weeds grow over and you can’t figure out where the next stone is. There’s lots of weeds in these cases. We know how to sort our way through the path, get to the next stone and keep moving until we can get the issues resolved.
David Daggett: The biggest obstacle is the person, the beneficiary, doesn’t know what to do. They just, they don’t know. And a huge obstacle, they don’t have any idea who to call. I mean, if you just get on the phone and call somebody, they’re not going to have any idea how to pursue that claim many times, and that’s a huge obstacle, knowing who to call and who can help you figure these problems out. And that’s what they are. They’re compound complex problems that we’re pretty good at figuring out.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. So let me ask you this, because it’s interesting the things that you’ve talked about. Some of these things are just not common knowledge. For instance, the one that you talked about with suppose you purchase a ticket with a MasterCard and there’s life insurance on that, and that’s something people would commonly know. So my question is, if someone has a significant other, someone or family member or a loved one that passes away, would it make sense for them to call you and say, “I don’t know if there’s life insurance or not.”
David Daggett: Well, they can run the facts by us and we can tell them where told where to look.
Cindy Speaker: Where to look, perfect. Yeah.
David Daggett: But some of those, we don’t have a crystal ball. So you can’t just call us and say, “Is there life insurance?” If you call us and say, “My parents died on a trip. Is there anything I should be looking into?” “Well, yes. How did they buy their tickets?” “Discovery card.” “Well, good. We need to get the discovery card contract and take a look at that.” Where are they on business at the time? Were they employed? Does the employer have benefits? Does a mom or dad or sister or brother … in the old days, everybody used to keep their important papers in an old cigar box that was hidden somewhere in the house. Where do they keep their important papers? And go look through those, look through there.
David Daggett: When you get your last MasterCard receipt or Visa card receipt, look through that receipt and see you if there’s any hints in there that may help open some doors. So we know the questions to ask, but we have to have a starting point. We just, we have to have more than someone dying.
Cindy Speaker: Sure. And you know what? I think what you did is you just gave us that starting point by saying some of the common places that people should consider and look.
David Daggett: Right.
Cindy Speaker: So if you are in a situation as you’re listening, where this relevant to you, rerun this and take a few notes. These are the places to look. David just kind of went through them. And if there is a potential claim, if you are concerned that this may be relevant for you in a specific way, then give the firm a call.
David Daggett: Yeah. If the loved one was employed, you can look at their last pay stub where it has the deductions, and sometimes times there’ll be a deduction on there that will give a hint that they’re paying for some coverage somewhere. Or you can call the human resources department at the employer and ask, “What’s in the standard benefits package?”
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. Well, David, if someone does the light work, thinks there’s reason to believe possibly there is a policy, how can they reach out to you?
David Daggett: Well, they can go to our website, daggettshulerlaw.com. There’s actually a place you can click for life insurance clients, so you can learn a little bit more. Or give us a call at (336) 724-1234.
Cindy Speaker: Very good. This a difficult topic, but an very important one.
David Daggett: Oh, very, very important. And particularly, if you’ve got people who are really dependent on those proceeds, a widow or widower, children, it’s absolutely critical that you look into it and pursue those claims.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. Well, David, thanks for being with us again.
David Daggett: Thank you, Cindy. It’s always good to be with you.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. To those of you watching either live or by replay, thank you for being with us today, and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.