• Ohio Court Holds No Insurer Duty to Search Death Master File
  • November 13, 2012
  • Law Firm: Sutherland Asbill Brennan LLP - Washington Office
  • Life insurance companies in Ohio have no affirmative duty to search the Social Security Death Master File (DMF) or otherwise seek out information on possible deaths, the Ohio Court of Appeals has held in Andrews v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, No. 97891 (Ohio Ct. App. Oct 25, 2012). Affirming the dismissal of a putative class action filed by private plaintiffs, the court held that the life insurance contracts at issue “do not impose a duty on [the insurer] to search the DMF to determine whether their insureds are deceased,” and therefore “obligating [the insurer] to solicit or gather information pertaining to an insured’s death would be contrary to the terms contained in the insurance policy.” Opinion ¶¶ 19 & 28. The court found “no validity to appellants’ allegations that [the insurer] has breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by failing to utilize the DMF for the benefit of its life insureds.” Id. ¶ 25.