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False Application Info Leads To Rescission Of LTC Insurance

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Long Term Care Insurance


Norma Steinback was interested in purchasing long term care insurance for her husband Jack. When she saw a solicitation from Bankers Life and Casualty Company she returned the postcard indicating an interest. Shortly thereafter Bankers Life agent James Van Noten visited the Steinbacks at their Montana home.

During Mr. Van Noten’s visit Mrs. Steinback did most of the talking. She told the insurance agent that her husband suffered from a variety of health problems. She listed them for Mr. Van Noten: diabetes, a heart condition, “hardening of the arteries,” and vision restrictions related to the diabetes.

One of the questions Mr. Van Noten asked was whether Mr. Steinback had “seen a doctor professionally or had medical treatment or advice for Parkinson’s Disease, memory loss, Alzheimer’s Disease, or any other organic brain disorder.” The Steinbacks answered “no” to that question, and Mr. Van Noten filled in the corresponding box on the application form. Bankers Life ultimately issued a long-term care policy for Mr. Steinback.

Eighteen months later Mr. Steinback was admitted to a nursing home in Billings. The insurance company investigated the resultant claim and denied coverage.

The insurance company’s investigation revealed that Mr. Steinback had seen his doctor three months before the insurance application, and had been treated for “moderate to severe organic brain deficit.” One possible diagnosis listed by the physician during two months of treatment had been Alzheimer’s Disease.

Because the application contained false information Bankers Life refused coverage and refunded the premiums. Mrs. Steinback filed a lawsuit charging that the insurance company had acted improperly and seeking coverage for her husband’s nursing home stay (Mr. Steinback died five months after his admission to the nursing home).

In her complaint Mrs. Steinback acknowledged that her husband had received medical treatment for organic brain disorder. In fact, she argued, the insurance agent must have been able to tell her husband was suffering from problems even during their short interview in the Steinback home. At the time, she insisted, Mr. Steinback was “so visibly confused that he didn’t even understand what was going on, or why.”

If Mrs. Steinback could show that the insurance agent had actual knowledge of her husband’s mental limitations her claim would be successful, since the insurance company would be deemed to have issued the policy despite what it knew. In this case, however, the evidence was far from clear that Mr. Van Noten actually saw a confused and disoriented applicant, and so Bankers Life was permitted to rescind the policy. Steinback v. Bankers Life, December 12, 2000.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

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Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.