Life Insurance Benefits in the Wake of a Suicide: What is the Truth?

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
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Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

Suicide is an epidemic with incident rates on the rise.  Nearly 30,000 Americans take their lives each year.  Many of these individuals have life insurance policies in force at the time they take their own lives.  The result is often additional tragedy and heartache heaped upon family members.  These surviving loved ones must bury a person for whom they care and attend to the financial decisions that accompany any death (how much ought to be spent on a casket, where can we bury our loved one, etc.).  These grieving family members also might find themselves in a bitter dispute with the decedent’s insurance company.

Law firms routinely meet with clients who have inaccurate preconceptions about these types of situations.  Our law firm is no different.  Part of our time is devoted to identifying mistaken beliefs and opinions about the law and the issues in a case so that our clients have a clear understanding of their rights and prospects.  When a client’s loved one has committed suicide, oftentimes one of the greatest concerns they have relate to whether they are entitled to recover any of the proceeds from their loved one’s policy so that they can bury their loved one and meet his or her final expenses.

Many people believe that if an insured person takes his or her own life then the insurance company is not obligated to pay any of the policy’s benefit to the surviving beneficiary. However, this is not necessarily accurate.

The Good News: Payment of a Life Insurance Policy After a Suicide Depends on the Contract

The good news is that a suicide does not automatically prevent the beneficiary of the deceased’s life insurance policy from receiving benefits under a policy.  Instead, the question of whether surviving family members will be entitled to receive the benefits of their deceased loved one’s policy will depend on the specific terms and conditions of the policy .  This means that beneficiaries of life insurance policies where the insured has taken his or her own life are not necessarily left without recourse; instead, they must find their loved one’s policies and carefully review the policy to determine what benefits are paid in the event of a suicide.

The Bad News: Payment of Benefits after a Suicide is Usually Denied if the Suicide Happened Shortly After the Policy Went Into Force

Most insurance companies build a two- to three-year limitation into their policies. These provisions state that if the insured individual takes his or her life within two or three years after the policy is put into force, then no benefits (or diminished benefits in some cases) are paid to the beneficiaries. This is, in part, to limit the practice of despondent individuals taking out large life insurance policies on themselves and committing suicide so that they can provide for their families.

You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].

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