Beneficiaries under a life insurance policy presume that when the insured dies the insurance company will pay out the policy benefits. While this frequently happens, there are a number of exclusions that can prevent a beneficiary from receiving payments under a life insurance policy. One exclusion that can preclude recovery involves the suicide of the insured.
Suicide clauses that bar the payment of benefits if the insured commits suicide are included in virtually all life insurance policies. However, the exclusion can be buried in the policy and difficult to identify. The clause will usually be no more than a sentence or two and may not actually use the term suicide. Phrases that might be used to cover this exclusion include “death by the insured’s own hand” or “intentional self-destruction.” This variation in the way the exclusion is phrased can lead to disputes when interpreting whether a particular death falls within the exclusion.
While it might seem natural to assume that the meaning of the term “suicide” or the related phrases above are self-explanatory, insurance companies and policyholders often dispute the nature of the intent that must be present for an act to be excluded under this type of provision.
Examples of situations where the suicide exclusion typically will apply:
Intentionally taking one's life:
- A self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head
- Jumping form a bridge or high building
Examples of situations where the insurance company may allege, perhaps wrongfully, that the suicide exclusion should apply:
Death resulting from engaging in conduct with a high probability of causing a fatality:
- Playing Russian roulette. Participants take turns firing a partially loaded firearm at their own head. Although the objective of the game is to avoid having a chamber with a bullet in the firing position, the high risk involved in the game willl have the insurance company arguing that the activity falls within the suicide exclusion.
- When a person dies with drugs in their system or while DWI/DUI.
- Death from overdoses.
- Death caused by reckless driving.
- Fatality while engaged in conduct constituting a felony.
- “Death by police officer” or "suicide by cop".
You can reach Miami Life 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].