California District Court Grants Summary Judgment to Life Insurer in Rescission Case

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Judge Virginia Phillips of the United States District Court, Central District of California, granted summary judgment to USAA Life Insurance Company, finding that Dr. Marshall Salkin made material misrepresentations regarding his health history when he applied for life insurance coverage with USAA Life, and that rescission of his policy was proper. The Court held that inquiry into the adequacy of USAA Life’s initial underwriting of the policy was not relevant to the rescission inquiry, nor was Dr. Salkin’s intent or his belief regarding the significance of his condition.

In his telephonic application for insurance, which was tape-recorded, Dr. Salkin represented that he had a family history of heart disease, underwent an EKG in connection with an earlier USAA Life application, and treated himself for high blood pressure. When asked if he had ever seen a doctor for a mental disorder, had undergone diagnostic tests during the prior five years, or had medical records of his self-treatment, he replied “no.” When asked to authorize USAA Life to obtain his medical records, he affirmatively stated that no such records existed. Dr. Salkin submitted a claim for accelerated benefits under the policy when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and USAA Life conducted a routine contestable investigation.

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