Norem v. Lincoln Benefit Life Co., No. 12-1816 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
In 1994, Norem purchased a “Flexible Premium Variable Life Insurance Policy” from Lincoln Benefit. With variable life insurance, part of the premium is allocated to the insurer’s investment funds, called subaccounts. Policyholders may move their investments within the subaccounts and the death benefit, which is guaranteed not to fall below a certain amount. With variable universal life, the policyholder may easily invest and alter insurance coverage. The policy is comprised of the policy value, which represents the investment component, and its net amount at risk, which represents the insurance component. Norem purchased his policy because he wanted both life insurance and an investment vehicle for the proceeds from the sale of his ownership of a medical business. The policy has a “cost of insurance” (COI) charge deducted monthly from the policy. The policy explains how the COI rate is calculated. Norem filed a putative class action on behalf of himself and other similarly situated policyholders, claiming that Lincoln Benefit breached the terms of its policies in its method of calculating the COI rate.Before deciding on class certification, the district court granted summary judgment to Lincoln Benefit, concluding that its calculation of COI rates did not breach the contract. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.