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Death can occur naturally, by accident, suicide, or homicide. In general, a life insurance policy covers each type of death, with some exceptions.

Is death by natural causes covered by life insurance?

Death by natural causes refers to internal factors, like a medical condition or a disease, as opposed to external factors, like trauma from an accident. In other words, natural causes could be anything from cancer to heart disease to diabetes.

A traditional life insurance policy will pay out the death benefit if the insured dies from natural causes as long as the policy is inforce.

However, every life insurance policy comes with a contestability period. The contestability period is valid the first two years of the policy. If the insured dies within these two first years, the insurance company can investigate to make sure the insured did not misrepresent themselves when they applied.

Example:

John, 60, dies 150 days after buying a life insurance policy. Death was determined to be due to liver disease as a result of alcoholism. However, John had claimed on his application that he only drank socially.

This is an example of misrepresentation. The insurance company can contest the claim, in other words, deny paying the death benefit.

Will an accidental death life insurance policy pay out for a natural death?

An accidental death insurance policy would not pay the death benefit if the insured dies of natural causes. An accidental death insurance policy only covers loss of life resulting from accidents involving cars, bikes, work-related machinery, falls, suffocation, choking, drowning, and fires.

An accidental death insurance policy is often only purchased if you’re not eligible for a traditional term life insurance or permanent life insurance policy.

Is death by accidental causes covered by life insurance?

An accidental death is an unnatural death that is caused by an accident such as a slip and fall, traffic collision, or accidental poisoning.

Both an accidental death life insurance policy and a traditional life insurance policy will pay out the death benefit if the insured dies as a result of an accident. However, the contestability period applies here as well.

Example:

Laura, 30, dies 300 days after buying a life insurance policy. Her death was due to a snowboarding accident while on vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Laura was a thrill-seeker and spent many weekends traveling to some of the most dangerous slopes. However, Laura omitted this hobby on her life insurance application.

The life insurance company can contest this claim.

Sometimes, insurance companies will offer life insurance to high-risk individuals, but may include an exclusion rider. For example, if someone is a professional race car driver, they may be able to obtain traditional life insurance, but be willing to accept an exclusion rider that states the insurance company will pay the death benefit unless the death occurs as a result of racing.

While there are a few exceptions, as long as you are honest on your application, the death benefit will be paid.

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Is death by suicide covered by life insurance?

Most life insurance policies have suicide clauses built into them. A suicide clause is put in place to protect against people who might apply for life insurance with the intention of committing suicide.

The typical suicide clause states that the policy will not pay out death benefits if the cause of death is suicide within the first two years of the policy being active. Some states limit this to one year. While beneficiaries would not get the full death benefit, insurance companies often refund all premiums that were paid.

Is death by homicide covered by life insurance?

Homicide is the act of one human killing another. A homicide requires only an act of free will by another person that results in death, and thus a homicide may result from accidental, reckless, or negligent acts even if there is no intent to cause harm.

If an insured individual is killed as a result of homicide, the case will be reviewed by the insurance company. As long as the beneficiary of the life insurance policy is not suspected of being the murderer, the life insurance company will still pay out the benefit.

If the beneficiary is a suspect, the life insurance company will keep the funds until a verdict is decided. If the beneficiary is found guilty, the insurance company will pay the benefit to the contingent (back-up) beneficiary named on the policy.

Sometimes, even if a beneficiary is tried for the murder of the insured and they aren’t found guilty, the insurance company might take them to court if they feel there’s evidence that links them to the murder. It’s less difficult in civil court than criminal court to find someone liable for a death.

A life insurance policy is meant to protect your family’s financial future should you die and can no longer physically provide for them. While there are a few exceptions, as long as you are honest on your application, the death benefit will be paid.

You can apply for life insurance today. Get term life insurance quotes instantly by using our quoting tool. No need to provide contact information until you’re ready to apply.

Your dedicated Quotacy agent will keep you posted as your application moves through the buying process. Any time you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content Manager

Natasha is a writer and content editor at Quotacy. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. She can't get enough of life insurance and outside of work is also working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter designation. Connect with her on LinkedIn.