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Experience or knowledge of MA Chapter 175: Section 134A. Conversion; right of certificate-holder; notice

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Guest BOS_1


Looking for advice and/or assistance with respect to MA Law Chapter 175: Section 134A. Conversion; right of certificate-holder; notice

Section 134A. If any individual insured under a group life insurance policy hereafter issued becomes entitled under the terms of such policy to convert to another type of life insurance within a specified time after the happening of an event, such certificate-holder shall be notified of such privilege and its duration within fifteen days after the happening of the event; provided, that if such notice be given more than fifteen days, but less than ninety days after the happening of such event, the time allowed for the exercise of such privilege of conversion shall be extended for fifteen days after the giving of such notice. If such notice be not given within ninety days after the happening of the event, the time allowed for the exercise of such conversion privilege shall expire at the end of such ninety days. Written notice by the employer given to the certificate-holder or mailed to the certificate-holder at his last known address, or written notice by the insurer mailed to the certificate-holder at the last address furnished to the insurer by the employer, shall be deemed full compliance with the provisions of this subdivision for the giving of notice.

A colleague's father worked for a bank for close to 5 years. Duing the last year of employment the father went out on FMLA due to illness. The father was a long time diabetic on dialysis that continued to work on dialysis. The father was on FMLA because the bank did not offer short term disability. While out on FMLA, the bank went through change of ownership/managment and the father was terminated while out on FMLA. According to my colleague no date was given to his father as to when FMLA would end. The father was sent a notice saying that since it appeared he was not able to go back to work, the bank would need to end employment. The father was in the process of applying for long -term disability under the company's LTD plan when he was terminated.

My colleague's father passed away shortly after he was terminated. Colleague has been overwhelmed with mounting medical expenses as well as funeral expenses. His father could only obtain a small term life insurance policy due to his health conditions. An HR rep at our company had asked our colleague if the father was covered under a GTL policy through the bank and if he had converted the policy to a whole life policy after his termination as most GTL plans allow this up to the amount the employee was covered for while employed.

Colleague stated neither he nor his father were not aware that the father could convert the GTL policy. Upon looking at the fatehr's W-2 he was covered under the GTL for the bank as there is an amount in box 12a of the W-2 labeled C for GTL taxable amount over 50K.

Colleague lives in MA and the HR rep found MA law chapter 175 above. Colleague has all paperwork from when his father was terminated and there is no notification provided with respect to the right to convert the GTL to a whole life. The only notification given to the father was regarding COBRA and the father's retirement plan. Upon further investigation, colleague has found plan summary documentation for the father's retirement plan but no plan summary documentation with respect to the GTL plan.

Colleague is wondering if he has legal cause as if the father was notified he could convert his GTL to a whole life, colleague knows without a doubt the father would have done this as the father would have been able to have a policy that was at least equal to what he was covered for when he was employed which colleague believes to be at least 2.5 times the father's salary. This wuld have helped with the over 50K in medicak expenses as well as the funeral expenses. Colleage paifd close to 6K out of pocket for father's funeral.

I have tried to assist colleague before going to an attorney but am confused because of all the ERISA issues that may arise. Am wondering if colleague has cause to take this to an attorney or will ERISa just make this all null and void. I personally don't understand what the point of the sate law is if ERISA is just going to preempt it.

Thank you in advance for any advice or information.

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