The main reason for purchasing life insurance is to leave something behind for your loved ones when you pass away. You pay your life insurance premiums to ensure your beneficiaries will receive death benefits should something happen to you. Not everyone is aware that life insurance policies have certain exclusions that can prevent beneficiaries from receiving benefits. It is important to know what those exclusions are before accepting a policy.
Life insurance companies add exclusions to their policies to protect themselves from risks, as untimely deaths could mean early death benefits and more costs to the company. Common life insurance exclusions include the following:
- Suicide: Virtually every life insurance company has a death by suicide exclusion. It is usually a two-year clause. If the policyholder dies by suicide within two years of taking out the policy, then the exclusion applies, and the beneficiaries are not able to collect death benefits. In most cases, they get the premiums back, but not the benefits. This clause is in place to prevent people from purchasing life insurance when they are planning to commit suicide. Most insurance companies screen applicants for mental health conditions before approving them for coverage.
- Service in the military: Military service can mean a higher risk of death for policyholders. For this reason, it may be an exclusion in life insurance policies.
- Aviation accidents: Although it is rare for a policyholder to die in a plane crash, death caused by aviation accidents is a common life insurance policy exclusion.
- Acts of war: Life insurance coverage may be denied when a policyholder is killed as a result of wartime activities.
- Accidental death policy exclusions: Some life insurance policies only provide coverage for death due to accidents and will not cover causes of death related to illness or chronic health conditions. Accidental death life insurance policies may include exclusions for death caused by illegal activities, such as DUI automobile accidents; risky activities, such as rock climbing or skydiving; and death resulting from drug or alcohol abuse.
What Is the Contestability Period?
Providing false information on your application (misrepresentation), risky hobbies, or substance abuse could prevent you from getting life insurance coverage to begin with. Life insurance policies have a contestability period, which is typically one to two years from the effective date of the policy. During this time, the insurance company can investigate your application and deny claims against the policy. If you pass away during the contestability period and the insurance company determines that you provided false information or misrepresented yourself, it can void your coverage, in which case no death benefits will be paid to your beneficiaries.
Every insurance company is different. It is critical to know what your life insurance covers and what the exclusions are. Life insurance contracts can be complex and difficult to comprehend. If you are considering purchasing a life insurance policy, our knowledgeable agent can review the contract with you to help you understand the policy limitations.