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Does Life Insurance Cover Suicide?


We’ve all seen it on television or otherwise heard about it in pop culture: A person desperate to help their family takes out a large life insurance policy and then commits suicide in order to trigger payment, but the claim is denied as fraudulent. Or a person commits suicide and the family, already devastated, learns from the insurance company that the policy simply does not cover suicide, adding insult to injury. Are these dramatizations based in reality? Does life insurance exclude suicide? Continue reading to find out how California life insurance policies and the law treat suicide, and call a dedicated California life insurance attorney for help with a claim denial.

Life Insurance Can Exclude Suicide

Whether a life insurance policy covers suicide depends on the language in the policy, which in turn often depends on the type of policy at issue. Individual policies and employer-paid group life insurance policies may treat suicide differently. Individual policies, those that you purchase on your own separate from your employment, generally all exclude suicide coverage within a certain term period.

Look to the language in your policy before you sign. Most individual policies include a provision establishing that if the insured dies from suicide within a certain period after the policy goes into effect, coverage will be denied. Typically, the time is two years after the policy’s effective date. Additionally, the language governing suicide must be clear and explicit in the policy. If the insured dies after the period set by the policy, then the death will be treated as any other covered event.

According to experts, group life insurance provided by employers is less likely to include a suicide clause. Policyholders can find out the specifics by reviewing the policy language or speaking with HR, but, typically, employer-provided policies are less likely to exclude suicide. If employees purchase a group life insurance policy through their employer, however, then the policy is likely to treat suicide more like individual policies–with an exclusionary period.

Note also that most policies require applicants to disclose diagnosed mental health issues on their policy applications. Even if a policy does not exclude suicide, if an applicant failed to disclose an underlying mental health issue and then commits suicide within the two-year contestability period, the insurer may try to use that failure to disclose as grounds to rescind the policy.

If you’ve been the victim of a wrongful claim denial or bad faith actions by a California life insurance carrier, get help you can trust from the seasoned and effective Los Angeles insurance denial lawyers at Gianelli & Morris by contacting them for a free consultation at 213-489-1600.

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