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fundevogel's avatar

Should insurance policies permit suicide under certain circumstances?

Asked by fundevogel (15025 points ) January 9th, 2010

If the right to die movement ever makes headway and it becomes legally acceptable to end you own life, at least under some circumstances, how should insurance companies change to make sure their policies don’t not penalize suicide inappropriately?

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17 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

My first life insurance policy had a clause that invalidated the policy in case of suicide within the first two years. I questioned the agent, who explained that the policy certainly did pay for suicide—after the exclusionary period.

Seemed fair to me.

SeventhSense's avatar

Hey it’s ok man. Step away from the ledge..

Judi's avatar

My first husbands employer had a $15,000 policy that I was surprised was honored after his suicide. I think like @CyanoticWasp said, it was because the policy had been in force more than 2 years.

john65pennington's avatar

You really have to be leary of some life insurance policies. some have clauses that allow payment for suicide after a certain amount of years. other policies do not pay for suicide if the person lives in a state where suicide is a violation of the law. their belief is we cannot pay a claim to a person that has violated the law. in a way, it makes sense.

jamielynn2328's avatar

I think they should definitely pay out if the person had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

fundevogel's avatar

@Judi & @CyanoticWasp That’s good to hear. I was under the impression that suicide was probably under reported because of the need to fool insurance companies, but I guess not all of them so inflexible on the matter.

but I still think it’s under reported.

Jack79's avatar

the special circumstances are usually euthanasia of a person who is already costing the insurance company so much, that they’ll probably be glad to “let you” commit suicide. In fact, probably the biggest argument against euthanasia is exactly how it could potentially be eploited by insurance companies and even givernment agencies, as well as relatives not willing to pay for medical treatment anymore.

JLeslie's avatar

I am pretty sure my insurance is the same as @CyanoticWasp a two year period before you can collect on suicide. I have USAA life insurance. You can only get it if you are in the military, have a spouse in the military, or had a parent in the military.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Jack79, we’re talking about different insurers here. You seem to be thinking of the health / medical insurer, who may be paying lots of money in end-of-life costs. The OP’s Q was about the life insurance policy, though. They won’t pay a nickel until the insured dies.

fundevogel's avatar

I would be open to hearing thoughts regarding health insurance as well as life insurance. There are definitely different considerations though depending on which you’re talking about.

YARNLADY's avatar

Life Insurance policies are based on the fact that the insurance company will have premiums to invest, in order to pay out the claims. If people who wanted to commit suicide could take out a policy, not pay any premiums, and take their life, how could an insurance company pay off the claims?

The only way it would work is if the Life Insurance Policy was very, very expensive. The insured could pay for their own death up front, so to speak.

fundevogel's avatar

@YARNLADY I wouldn’t except insurance companies to pay out to people that bought insurance knowing they were going to be killing them selves forthright. But it seems reasonable, neigh honorable, to fulfill a life insurance policy that has been around for a good while. Particularly if it belonged to someone with a terminal disease that chose to be euthanized.

Judi's avatar

And, Depression CAN be terminal.

YARNLADY's avatar

@fundevogel Yes, it is my understanding that most policies do cover after the initial stated period (two years is most common). After that, anything goes.

JLeslie's avatar

If you have a history of severe depression you either won’t be able to get life insurance, you might be able to get it, but not including suicide, and/or premiums would be very high. Mental illness is part of the application process just like heart disease, cancer, and other things that might hasten death.

Judi's avatar

My husbands policy was through work and never asked any health history questions.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi Good point. Through work is different.

@all I always recommend to people that they should get some life insurance on the outside also (depending on how important having the insurance is, like having young kids, or a spouse who can’t work, etc) because if the insurance is tied to work you lose it if you are laid off or if you quit, unless your company has insurance you can take with you, which is not always the case. I know too many people who have their first lay-off at age 50 something, and then insurance might be harder to get, better to establish some life insurance at a younger age. I think my first policy I started around age 32 for $250K and it just costs me $240 a year or something like that???

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