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Wise v. American General Life Insurance Co.

August 21, 2006

DANIELLE WISE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM WISE, APPELLANT
v.
AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, INTELLIQUOTE INSURANCE SERVICES, GARY R. LARDY



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (D.C. No. 04-cv-3711). District Judge: Honorable Bruce W. Kauffman.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fuentes, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued February 27, 2006

Before: SLOVITER, FUENTES, and BECKER,*fn1 Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

After receiving a quote from an internet website, William Wise applied for a life insurance policy from American General Life Insurance Company. American General approved the application and mailed Wise a policy on March 3, 2004. The policy provided that the policy year would begin on the date of issue, March 3, 2004, but that no coverage would be provided until the first premium was paid by Wise while he remained in good health. Wise died unexpectedly on March 10, 2004, the same day that he received the policy in the mail, and one week after the "date of issue" of the policy. His wife, Danielle Wise, mailed the first premium to American General the following day. We are asked to determine whether the life insurance policy was in effect at the time of Wise's death. Because, as of the date of Wise's death, Wise had not accepted the insurance contract by paying the premium, we conclude that the life insurance policy never took effect.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

In anticipation of the birth of his first child, William Wise ("Wise") used an internet website run by defendant Intelliquote Insurance Services ("Intelliquote") to research life insurance policies for himself in January 2004. By entering personal information on the Intelliquote website, Wise was able to obtain quotes from several insurance carriers. After comparing the annual premiums offered by each carrier, Wise selected an American General policy, and Intelliquote sent him an application.

The American General application mailed to Wise consisted of two parts. Part A of the application required the applicant to disclose personal information for the purposes of obtaining a policy. It also described, among other things, an option for a "Limited Temporary Life Insurance Agreement" ("Temporary Insurance"). (Appendix "App." at A107.) The application stated that Temporary Insurance was available to the applicant only if 1) the full first modal premium was submitted with the application and 2) the applicant had not had certain health problems and was not more than seventy years old.*fn2 (Id. at A105, A107.) The application did not indicate the amount of the first premium payment.

Part A of the application also required Wise's signature acknowledging that he had read the application, that his statements were true and complete, and that he understood that his application would be the basis of his policy. Wise was also asked to affirm that:

Except as may be provided in a Limited Temporary Life Insurance Agreement (LTLIA), I understand and agree that no insurance will be in effect pursuant to this application, or under any new policy issued by the Company, unless or until: the policy has been delivered and accepted; the first full modal premium for the issued policy has been paid; and there has been no change in the health of any proposed insured that would change the answers to any questions in the application.

(Id. at A107.) Part B required that Wise sign an identical statement after providing his medical history. (Id. at A46.) Wise completed the application, signed both statements, and returned it on or about February 7, 2004. Wise did not submit a premium payment with his application.

American General issued a life insurance policy to Wise on March 3, 2004, in the amount of $500,000. American General mailed the policy to Intelliquote, which in turn mailed the policy to Wise, who received the policy on March 10, 2004. The letter accompanying the policy stated, "[t]his policy is your contract and is for you to keep with other ...


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