Advantages of a Life Expectancy Using Life Insurance Underwriting and Life Settlement Methods in the Legal Setting
By: Vera Dolan
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The advantages of a life expectancy using life insurance underwriting and life settlement methods include:
- Accuracy. A life expectancy using life insurance underwriting and life settlement methods is very accurate, which can affect millions of dollars in judgments or awards. This addresses the inadequacy of life expectancies that are simply taken from a life table, estimated by a doctor, actuary or statistician, or have been excluded. In many cases, such life expectancies are too short, too long and/or not credible. A study that followed up life expectancies estimated by doctors found that "physicians do poorly at predicting life expectancy and tend to underestimate how long patients have left to live."1 Another study shows that not only doctors are inaccurate in predicting life expectancy, but statisticians also cannot provide accurate individual life expectancies.2
As an example, a plaintiff with rheumatoid arthritis filing a disability claim had been given a short life expectancy by the disability insurer. A properly done life expectancy using life insurance underwriting and life settlement methods found that this individual would live far longer than what the disability insurer said. The case settled with the plaintiff getting the proper number and amount of disability payments.
- Provides a complete insight to the judge or jury of the individual's medical conditions and/or personal history of high-risk behaviors. A life expectancy using life insurance underwriting and life settlement methods provides a comprehensive profile of the individual's medical conditions as well as any risky behaviors. The judge or jury will be given a comprehensive view of the individual's personal health and lifestyle, which often decides the case.
As an example, in a wrongful death case against a hospital the plaintiff died in the hospital. A life expectancy was performed for the defense on the deceased plaintiff (who was a 60-year-old male) as of the day before his final admission to that hospital. A life expectancy was performed for the defense on the deceased plaintiff (who was a 60-year-old male) as of the day before his final admission to that hospital. During the investigation for the life expectancy, it was discovered that 1) the plaintiff was not compliant with his diabetes medications to the point where his central nervous system was dysfunctional long before his final admission to that hospital, 2) he had suffered a stroke 4 years previously and had severe cardiovascular conditions, 3) he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema as a result of 45 years of cigarette smoking, and 4) he had a host of other medical conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to degenerative disc disease, gastrointestinal esophageal reflux, cataracts and prostatic hypertrophy. All of these medical conditions were included in the life expectancy report.
All of the above medical conditions were used to determine the plaintiff's life expectancy. During trial, these medical conditions were explained to the jury and how they affected the plaintiff's life expectancy. The jury heard all of the deceased plaintiff's medical conditions that affected his life expectancy prior to his final admission to that hospital, the jury then found a complete verdict for the defense. After the trial, jury members said, "It's a good thing that he died. His wife remarried a rich man."
In another defense case, the investigation conducted for the life expectancy uncovered evidence of prescription narcotic addiction, which was the deciding factor in winning the case at trial. Evidence of medical conditions, substance abuse and risky behavior that are relied on in a life expectancy using life insurance underwriting and life settlement methods comes from medical records, motor vehicle records, criminal records and any other documentation of health and risky behavior.
- A way to admit excluded evidence using Rule 703. A life expectancy report can get excluded evidence admitted. A life expectancy using life insurance underwriting and life settlement methods relies on all available evidence related to the mortality risk of the individual involved, including evidence that may have been previously excluded. This evidence is essential to the accuracy of the life expectancy, and this evidence is what the expert relies on to render an opinion of the life expectancy. Rule 703 enables the judge to decide if the evidence that was previously excluded (on which the expert's opinion of the life expectancy relies) is to be re-admitted.
As an example, Rule 703 was used in one case where the individual's extensive history of risky driving and hazardous motorcycle riding had been excluded from the evidence considered. This personal history of risky behavior was essential to the calculation of an accurate life expectancy. As a result, the evidence relied on to calculate the life expectancy was re-admitted, resulting in a decision that awarded plaintiff a half-million dollars instead of the requested $9 million.
Factors that Affect a Life Expectancy
A life expectancy is a statistical calculation that indicates the average length of life left until death that is expected for an individual with a known mortality risk profile. The most important factors in defining an individual's mortality risk profile are demographics (age, sex and race), personal and medical history. The more that is known about an individual's demographics, personal and medical history, the more accurate the life expectancy calculation. This information is critical to the judge or jury in understanding how, why and on what basis the life expectancy was calculated.
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Vera Dolan is an Epidemiologist with over 30 years of experience in the life and health insurance industries. She is one of the leading mortality experts in the life insurance industry. She writes underwriting manuals and policy and procedure manuals for life and health insurance companies.
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