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Erisa laws

any one familiar with Erisa Laws?

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Dear Richard.

The following excerpt may help you to understand ERISA Law.


What is ERISA?

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA was enacted by Congress in 1974 to address corruption in pension plans. Although Congress did not intend ERISA to control medical or disability insurance plans when it enacted ERISA, the bill that was signed into law contained the phrase "employee welfare benefit plan." As the result of federal courts’ interpretations of that phrase, today ERISA controls almost every private employee benefit, including health, disability, life and pension plans. ERISA includes the federal statute, 29 U S C ß 1001, et seq., regulations, which appear in Chapter 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and decisional law of the Federal Courts.

When ERISA controls, most other claims are pre-empted. This means that no punitive damages are available, no matter how abhorrent the insurance company’s tactics have been and no matter how unfair the denial. The claimant usually can recover only the amount of past benefits due, interest, costs and, in many cases, his or her attorney fees. This provides little incentive for insurance companies to treat claimants fairly. To go one step further, ERISA provides insurance companies with total immunity from any adverse consequences for their unfair and deceptive practices. In our experience, insurers routinely deny meritorious claims, knowing that the vast majority of their insureds do not have the means to fight their insurance plans. No matter how egregious an insurance company's conduct, ERISA provides it with a virtual license to steal.

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