The insurance company who wrote Heath Ledger’s $10 million life insurance policy is being sued after alleging the possibility that the actor’s death was a suicide, even though his death was determined to be accidental by officials. Attorneys for Ledger’s daughter, Matilda, claim that the insurance company is trying to avoid paying the settlement.
ReliaStar Life Insurance Company wrote the policy in June 2007, just six months before Ledger’s death. The beneficiary of the policy is a trustee who would hold the money for Ledger’s daughter. The insurer began investigating whether Ledger committed suicide, despite the fact that the New York City Medical Examiner found his death to be accidental.
The lawsuit claims that ReliaStar acted in bad faith by not promptly paying the settlement and for wrongfully prying into the life of Heath Ledger after his death. The insurance company’s lawyers state that Ledger’s death was suspicious and the insurer responded to the lawsuit by saying that it has a right to investigate the claim to determine if the suicide provision is applicable.
ReliaStar is questioning some of the responses on the insurance application, which it believes may have been false – specifically the questions where Ledger was asked if he took prescription drugs and if he ever used illegal drugs. The insurer’s attorneys say that they intend to take the depositions of Mary-Kate Olsen, the masseuse, Ledger’s colleagues on his last film, his agents, doctors, psychologists and others.
Lawyers representing Ledger’s daughter believe that ReliaStar is trying to prolong the process, which could end up taking years, in an attempt to avoid paying the money. The lawyers also claim that ReliaStar is violating California law, which prohibits insurance companies from re-examining insurance applications after the policyholder dies.