What types of death are not covered by life insurance?


Life insurance is no fun to think about, and those who buy it certainly hope they never need it. Yet if you die, your loved ones will likely be relieved that you have purchased a policy. Although life insurance covers deaths from natural causes and accidents, certain circumstances could prevent a payment. Here’s what you need to know.

Key points to remember

  • Life insurance provides financial protection for your loved ones in the event of death, but policies don’t pay in all situations.
  • In general, life insurance policies cover deaths from natural causes and accidents.
  • If you lie on your claim, your insurer may refuse to pay your beneficiaries upon your death.
  • Life insurance policies cover suicide, but only if some time has passed since the policy was purchased.
  • If you die while participating in a risky hobby, your insurer may or may not pay benefits, depending on your policy details.
  • The “killer rule” prevents a death benefit from being paid to your beneficiary if he or she murders you or is closely related to your murder.

What is life insurance?

A life insurance policy is a contract between you (the policyholder) and an insurance company. In return for paying regular premiums, the insurance company pays a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you die. Life insurance coverage provides a financial safety net and could replace your salary or be used to pay off a child’s mortgage or education costs.

Term life insurance vs whole life insurance

There are two main types of life insurance: term life insurance and whole life insurance (that is, permanent life insurance).

Term insurance is the simplest and most affordable type of life insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, it pays if you die during the term of the policy, which is typically one to 30 years.Once the term expires, you can renew it for another term, convert the policy to permanent coverage, or allow the policy to be terminated.

On the other hand, whole life insurance pays a death benefit every time you die, no matter how long you’ve been with the policy or how old you are. You’ll pay more premiums for less coverage with a whole life policy, but you’ll have the security of knowing your loved ones are protected your whole life. In addition, whole life insurance policies can accumulate cash over time and you can receive dividends from your insurer.

What Do Life insurance coverage?

Generally, if you die of natural causes, illness or accident, your designated beneficiaries will receive the life insurance payment. Here is a brief overview of the types of death covered by life insurance policies:

Natural causes

Life insurance covers deaths due to natural causes. If you die of a heart attack, cancer, infection, kidney failure, stroke, old age or any other natural cause, your beneficiaries will receive the insurance payment. .


Your life insurance policy will pay death benefits to your beneficiaries if you die from a traffic accident, drowning, poisoning, accidental drug overdose or other tragedy.


The death benefit will be paid to your beneficiaries if you are murdered, unless your beneficiary murdered you or is closely related to your murder.


Life insurance covers suicide, and your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit unless the death occurs during the “contestability period” —usually the first two years of the policy — provided there is no no other exclusion in the policy that prohibits it.

Pandemic disease

If you have an existing policy and you die of COVID-19, this is classified as a natural cause, and the insurance company will pay the benefit to your beneficiaries. However, let’s say you buy a new policy during an ongoing pandemic and you lie on your claim about your health or exposure to illness. In this case, the insurer can refuse to pay.

What types of death are not covered by life insurance?

If you do not die for one of the reasons mentioned above, your insurer may not pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries. Here are the situations in which your beneficiaries may not be able to collect benefits:

Risky activities

Depending on the situation and your policy, you may not be covered if you die while participating in a risky activity. Risk activities are recreational activities that have an increased potential for injury or death, such as:

  • Scuba diving
  • Basic jump
  • Hang gliding
  • Car race
  • Aviation
  • Climbing and climbing

The category of risky activities also includes some jobs, such as lumberjack, pilot, offshore oil rig worker, offshore fisherman and underground miner.

If you participate in risky activities, whether for fun or work, you can still buy a life insurance policy, but you could end up paying higher premiums. And, depending on how risky the activity is, your insurer may add an exclusion to the policy that prohibits payments if you die while you are engaged in that activity.

If you engage in risky activities, let your insurer know during the application process. Otherwise, your insurer may terminate your contract or refuse to pay the death benefit.


Under the “killer rule”, if your beneficiary murders you or is in any way linked to your murder, they will not receive the death benefit.Instead, your insurer will pay the death benefit to your potential beneficiaries or to your estate.


Generally, life insurance covers suicide. However, most policies have a “suicide clause,” or contestation period, during the first two years of the policy. Life insurance policies do not cover suicide that occurs during this time. Things can get tricky if an insured dies of a drug overdose during this time. However, in this case, the insurer would have to prove that the overdose was intentional in order to withhold the death benefit.

Other reasons life insurance won’t pay

Lying on the app

Life insurance companies can withhold death benefits if you lie on your claim (that’s insurance fraud, by the way). For example, the insurer can cancel your policy, and your beneficiaries would lose benefits if you lie about your:

  • Family health history
  • Medical conditions
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Risky activities
  • Travel plans

Do not name a beneficiary (or they die before you)

Paying the death benefit is complicated if you don’t have named beneficiaries, or if you do and they die before you do. In these situations, the death benefit goes to your estate and not necessarily to your loved ones.

It is essential to designate primary and subsidiary beneficiaries to receive the death benefit from the premature death insurance. Otherwise, benefits are subject to homologation, and they may ultimately not go where you expect.

The bottom line

Life insurance can provide peace of mind and a valuable financial safety net for your loved ones. In general, policies cover deaths from natural causes, illness and accidents. However, insurers can withhold benefits in certain situations. Make sure you read the fine print of your policy to understand what is covered and what is not.

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