Friday, April 21, 2017

Case of the Day: Yang v. Farmers New World Life Ins. Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42501 (D. Minn. Mar. 23, 2017)


Plaintiff's grandmother had a life insurance policy with the defendant insurer. Defendant refused to pay out the policy upon the grandmother's passing, claiming that the policy holder was 69 years old when she took out the policy. The insurance policy has a maximum issue age limit of 60 years old.

The policy holder had "two birthdays"--one indicated by birth records from Laos, and another assigned by the U.S. immigration authorities. The policy holder was 59 years old according to the former, and 69 years old according to the latter. Both parties moved for summary judgment.

The court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff . The court found that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the age of the insured. But the court also found that, even if the insured was indeed 69 years old, the incontestability provision in the insurance policy prohibited the insurance company from challenging the validity of the policy once the policy had been in effect for two years. Because the policy had been in effect for two years, the defendant was barred from challenging it.


It is a common problem for Asian Americans that their birthday is botched in the process of immigration. (For another rendition of this issue, see Teng v. District Director, USCIS, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8161 (9th Cir. May 4, 2016)). It is exceedingly difficult to establish the "true" birthday; the plaintiff here could not do so either. Only the incontestability provision in the life insurance policy saved them from losing the case.

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