Does life insurance cover suicide?
It’s a sad reality that around 6,000 people die by suicide each year in the UK. But if they have life insurance, will their suicidal death be covered?
Many of those people are covered by life insurance policies that pay compensation to their survivors, giving them financial security in a very difficult time.
Contrary to popular assumption, the vast majority of life insurance policies in the UK will issue pay-outs if a policyholder dies by suicide. Most insurers recognise that the mental health conditions that push someone to suicide are legitimate illnesses, no different than other causes of death.
However, these policies typically have suicide death clauses. These specify that deaths by suicide or self-harm will not be covered for the first 12 or 24 months of the policy. These clauses are in place so people aren’t encouraged to take their own lives, and to prevent fraud.
Unfortunately, this means that survivors will not be able to claim on these policies if their loved one dies as a result of suicide or intentional and serious self-harm in the first year or two after taking out the policy.
In some cases, the cause of death is unclear, with implications for potential life insurance pay-outs.
If a coroner has conducted a post-mortem, or held an inquest, and concluded the death came as a result of a suicide, the policy will be cancelled if the death occurred during the exclusion period. Even without a coroner’s verdict, the insurer can decide in their reasonable opinion if the person took their own life, considering evidence including the method, timing, and location of death and any documents left by the deceased.
If you're going through a difficult time, Samaritans is available to help, day and night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.