Does life insurance cover suicide?

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states.
After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu…

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Reviewed by

Rachael Brennan

Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Feb 17, 2022

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Here's the Scoop

  • As long as the contestability and suicide clauses have expired, life insurance policies typically pay beneficiaries following a suicide
  • If you have mental health conditions (such as depression) or you’ve previously attempted suicide, you should be honest on your life insurance application to avoid payout denial
  • If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255

When someone successfully completes a suicide attempt, the people left behind have to deal with their grief, the stress of handling the deceased’s affairs, and the shock itself. One of the last issues that people want to worry about is insurance.

However, losing a loved one involves the loss of their income, and many families depend on that. There’s usually no question about the death benefit, but it’s not as clear-cut regarding suicide.

Suicide is an extremely unpleasant tragedy that no one wants to encounter, but it’s reassuring to know that your insurance will more than likely cover it. However, there are some situations where the death benefit won’t be paid. You can check with your agent concerning any questions.

If you’re wondering whether or not life insurance covers suicide, comparing rates can help save you money. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to determine what rates might look like for you.

And if you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Table of Contents

Does life insurance cover suicide?

While there are some cases where your life insurance won’t pay out for suicide, it generally does. Your death benefit should be paid as long as you’ve passed your waiting period.

Though every company is different, there are usually two portions of your policy that need to expire before your benefit can be paid — the contestability and suicide clauses.

The contestability clause is also referred to as your insurance policy’s waiting period. Usually, this period lasts approximately two years. During this time, your company can deny your claim following a suicide. Once the period has passed, only serious misrepresentation or fraud will prevent claim denial.

The suicide clause is meant to financially protect life insurance companies. Insurance companies can investigate your death during a specified period (usually two years). If they conclude that you intentionally ended your life, your policy will likely be negated.

Companies incorporate suicide clauses into policies to ensure that someone planning to kill themselves doesn’t take out insurance immediately beforehand.

Does the contestability clause apply to more than suicide?

The contestability clause is broader than the suicide clause and includes more events that can cause policy denial. Every company will have its own list, but you can check below to gain an understanding of what types of deaths might be denied during the contestability period:

  • Dangerous hobbies – If you regularly participate in dangerous hobbies, such as skydiving, scuba diving, or auto racing — and die during engagement — your beneficiary might not receive a payout unless you inform the company.
  • Illegal activities – If you die while committing a crime (especially armed robbery), your policy will likely be denied.
  • Alcohol or drug use – Because this is an activity you perform, death from substance abuse might result in your beneficiary not being paid.
  • Murder – If your beneficiary murders you, they won’t receive a payout.

The contestability clause (along with the suicide clause) is one of the main reasons why people hesitate to switch life insurance companies. Beginning a new policy restarts your contestability period.

Does term life insurance pay out for suicide?

Many people assume that whole life insurance will compensate suicide since the coverage lasts for a lifetime. But what about term life?

As long as your contestability and suicide clause periods are complete, your term life insurance policy will cover suicide.

If your interval runs out and you decide to open a new term policy, you’ll have to await a new contestability period. However, many term life policies have the option to convert to a whole life policy before they expire.

Does group life insurance pay for suicide death?

Group life insurance is a policy that you acquire from an employer or an organization. These plans tend to have different rules concerning suicide.

Life insurance through your employer generally doesn’t have the same restrictions. As long as your employer pays for the entire policy, you’ll probably receive a suicide payout.

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Does life insurance pay for assisted suicide?

For the most part, life insurance companies treat physician-assisted suicides similar to regular suicide. As long as the contestability and suicide clauses have expired, your beneficiary will likely receive a payment.

If you’re concerned about the potential of assisted suicide, ask your agent to determine if there are any exclusions in your policy.

You also need to ensure that assisted suicide is legal in your state. Currently, there are only seven states where assisted suicide is legal in some cases.

Will depression prevent you from receiving life insurance?

As with other medical conditions, the nature of your depression will determine if you are eligible for life insurance and, if you are, how much it will cost you.

Generally, you won’t be denied life insurance unless you have concurrent medical issues or a history of self-destructive habits. If you’re receiving treatment, you’ll likely be approved for insurance.

When you apply for insurance, make sure that you are up-front about your depression. Insurance companies will typically work with you, but your beneficiary might not receive a payout if you lie on your application.

How to Prevent Your Policy From Being Denied Due to Suicide

Of course, the best way to prevent your policy from being denied due to suicide is to avoid suicide attempts. There are plenty of online resources for mental healthcare, and you should rely on the support of friends or family. In an emergency, call the Suicide Lifeline.

You should also ensure that you include all relevant information on your application. Your insurance company will likely investigate your death, and if they find anything that contradicts your application, your death benefit might not be paid.

You might have to compare numerous companies to find one that will cover you, despite a history of mental health issues or previous suicide attempts. However, many companies will work with you. Your coverage might be limited, but some coverage is always better than none.

As the beneficiary, you can take legal action against the insurance company in a worst-case scenario.

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Find the Best Life Insurance for Any Need

If you’ve been wondering, Does life insurance payout for suicide?, the answer is usually yes — as long as your contestability period has passed.

Finding life insurance that covers suicide is best conducted by comparing prices with as many companies as possible. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to discover what quotes might look like for you.

And if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.