In a trial contesting an insurer’s denial of total disability benefits, jurors, in some cases, might think that an award of total disability benefits would be an unfair windfall for the plaintiff.
To address a hidden bias like this, plaintiff’s attorneys may try to admit into evidence the amount of insurance premiums the plaintiff paid over the life of the policy. In many cases, the amount the plaintiff has paid in disability insurance policy premiums over a number of years is quite significant. Our firm has had focus group participants provide us with feedback that convinces us that many jurors are less likely to think that awarding total disability benefits to the plaintiff is undeserved if they understand how much the plaintiff paid for this type of coverage.
Can plaintiffs maintain that the amount of premiums they paid constitutes relevant evidence, if this fact is not in dispute? To put it another way, why should this evidence be admitted if the jury does not need to hear it to determine liability?
Whether courts will admit evidence of premiums paid depends on the court. We are not aware of precedent on this issue which is binding in a district court in Tennessee. What we have are unpublished (which are non-binding) cases from federal district courts outside of the Sixth Circuit (the circuit in which Tennessee is located) that go both ways.