Previously we reported on a number of federal district court decisions rejecting plaintiffs’ theory that in checking the NO box beside the smoking question in a life insurance application, they reasonably expected that the insured would be provided a non-smoker discount premium rating as opposed to the “standard” rating used industry-wide (see Expect Focus, Vol. I Winter 2008). These decisions signaled a clear indication that merely answering a tobacco question in the negative on a life insurance application does not obligate an insurer to provide a specific premium rating.
One such decision, Ross v. Metropolitan Life Insurance, from the Western District of Pennsylvania, was recently affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In the Third Circuit’s October 28, 2008 decision, the court praised the district court’s “thorough opinion” and observed that “it appears that MetLife promised to provide life insurance coverage in exchange for disclosed premium payments, and fully honored its part of the bargain.”