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Insurance company ordered to pay California woman

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Anybody with disability insurance expects to be able to collect benefits should they not be able to work due to an injury or illness. While most people have no trouble collecting, this is not the case across the board. There are circumstances in which an insurance company denies a claim, leaving the person in a difficult financial situation.

A federal jury has ordered Standard Insurance Co., the long term disability provider for Sonoma County, to pay a former worker $873,000 for benefits she was denied after she quit her position due to medical reasons. Jurors in the case noted that the company acted in bad faith in the way they handled the claim made by the 51-year-old woman who worked for the county from 2009 to 2010. There was no apparent reason they could find for denial.

The woman was diagnosed with Lupus in 2008. She did not show any signs of the disease when hired to the position. However, it was not long before she began to suffer symptoms including chest pain, fever and shortness of breath. As a result, she was unable to continue working.

The insurance company, which provides coverage to approximately 3,000 county employees, denied her benefits, noting that medication was available to treat her symptoms and that doctors said she was able to work. During the trial, several doctors testified that the woman was unable to work as a result of the disease. The damages awarded were equal to the amount she would have received in disability benefits through age 67.

If a group disability insurance claim has been denied, consulting with an employment law attorney is often your only option. Insurance companies must be held accountable to provide the services they offer and were paid for.

Source:  The Press Democrat, "Federal jury orders insurance company to pay woman $873,000" Paul Payne, Feb. 18, 2014

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