Rescission of Life Insurance Policy for Failure to Disclose a Health Condition
In Massachusetts Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Manzo, 122 N.J. 104, 111, 584 A.2d 190 (1991), the Court held that an insurance company could retroactively rescind a life insurance policy after the death of the insured based on his failure to disclose a health condition that would have caused the insurance company to charge a substantially higher premium.
In Longobardi v. Chubb Ins. Co. of N.J., 121 N.J. 530, 541-542, 582 A.2d 1257 (1990), the Court held:
The right rule of law, we believe, is one that provides insureds with an incentive to tell the truth.
It would dilute that incentive to allow an insured to gamble that a lie will turn out to be unimportant.
The focus, therefore, should be on the time when the insured is about to let loose the lie.
An insured's misstatement is material if when made a reasonable insurer would have considered the misrepresented fact relevant to its concerns and important in determining its course of action.
In effect, materiality should be judged according to a test of prospective reasonable relevancy.