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Court rejects disability Insurer’s attempt to hide behind ERISA

A Louisiana court recently rejected a long term disability insurer’s attempts to hide behind the protections afforded insurance companies by ERISA. In Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery v Standard Insurance Co. the Court determined that a claim that the insurance agent failed to increase the policy limits despite the doctors request and the agent’s promise was not preempted by ERISA. Rather, it was a simple negligence claim, even though it involved an ERISA policy.

The Court found that the claims against Hillyer(the insurance agent) were not subject to preemption under ERISA, because they did not implicate a relationship governed by ERISA and because the resolution of the claims does not require interpreting an ERISA plan. THe insurance agent was not an ERISA fiduciary, and the resolution of such allegations did not require the interpretation of an ERISA plan.