2010 Wisconsin Code
Chapter 632. Insurance contracts in specific lines.
632.48 Designation of beneficiary.


632.48 Designation of beneficiary.


(1) Powers of policyholders. Subject to s. 632.47 (2), no life insurance policy or annuity contract may restrict the right of a policyholder or certificate holder:


(a) Irrevocable designation of beneficiary. To make at any time an irrevocable designation of beneficiary effective at once or at some subsequent time; or


(b) Change of beneficiary. If the designation of beneficiary is not explicitly irrevocable, to change the beneficiary without the consent of the previously designated beneficiary. Subject to s. 853.17, as between the beneficiaries, any act that unequivocally indicates an intention to make the change is sufficient to effect it.


(2) Protection of insurer. An insurer may prescribe formalities to be complied with for the change of beneficiaries, but formalities prescribed under this subsection shall be designed only for the protection of the insurer. The insurer discharges its obligation under the insurance policy or certificate of insurance if it pays a properly designated beneficiary unless it has actual notice of either an assignment or a change in beneficiary designation made under sub. (1) (b). It has actual notice if the prescribed formalities are complied with or if the change in beneficiary has been requested in the form prescribed by the insurer and delivered to an intermediary representing the insurer.


(3) Notice of changes. An insurer that receives a request from the department of health services under s. 49.47 (4) (cr) 2. for notification shall comply with the request and notify the department of any changes to or payments made under the annuity contract to which the request for notification relates.

632.48 - ANNOT.

History: 1975 c. 373, 375, 422; 1979 c. 93; 2007 a. 20 ss. 3666, 9121 (6) (a).

632.48 - ANNOT.

Legislative Council Note, 1979: The amendment to sub. (2) adds a situation in which the insured has acted reasonably in dealing with a representative of the insurer. As between the insurer and the insured, the burden should fall upon the insurer if the agent makes an error of this kind. The insurer, of course, may have a cause of action against its agent. [Bill 20-S]

632.48 - ANNOT.

Under the facts of the case, the decedent's oral instruction to his attorney to change a beneficiary was a sufficient "act" under sub. (1) (b) even though the new beneficiary was not designated with sufficient specificity. Empire General Life Insurance v. Silverman, 135 Wis. 2d 143, 399 N.W.2d 910 (1987).

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