Skip To Content
Blog
Search

Does life insurance cover suicide?

Payment of life insurance proceeds can be uncertain in cases of suicide. Here’s what policyholders and beneficiaries should know.

Two sisters hug tightly outdoors in the wind

You buy life insurance because you are seeking financial protection for your loved ones. This seemingly simple, selfless gesture is also a little paradoxical in nature. You pay your monthly (or yearly) premiums, have coverage in place and hope your family will never have to use it. And, if that time comes, you won’t be around when your beneficiary files a claim.

Every life insurance policyholder wants to know that their loved ones will not have to jump through hoops to receive a life insurance payout. Even in a worst-case scenario, like suicide.

We understand your concerns, and we’ll level with you …With suicide, the payout of a life insurance policy can become uncertain. At Haven Life, it’s our mission to get as many people as possible access to affordable life insurance protection. We are not — and do not want to be — in the business of not supporting beneficiaries in their time of need.

Here are the considerations a life insurance company (in Haven Life’s case, our parent company, MassMutual) will weigh after a suicide.

Is the suicide within the contestability period?

Every life insurance policy includes a contestability period, during which the insurer can “contest” any claims made and even decline to pay out the death benefit. The contestability period is generally two years. This helps the life insurance company guard itself against insurance fraud. For example, let’s say someone doesn’t disclose a terminal illness in their application and takes out a $1 million policy knowing they will die well before they’ve paid a fraction of that in premiums. That would be a case where the insurance company would exercise their right to contest the validity of the policy and may not pay out the claim.

Why does it apply here? In short, if a policyholder commits suicide during the contestability period, most insurers will not pay out the claim. This is to prevent someone who is having suicidal thoughts from taking out a policy. Obviously, it’s a tragic situation, and no insurer wants to fall short of expectations. But in these instances, the insurer would refund any premiums paid (to the beneficiaries), and it will be as if the policy had never been taken out.

Are there any exceptions?

No. If an insurer makes an exception, then suddenly the insurer becomes responsible for deciding which situations warrant an exception — and which ones do not.

How does an insurer verify that someone committed suicide?

When a beneficiary files a claim, life insurance companies require a death certificate before paying out the benefit. A death certificate will indicate if the deceased committed suicide, or if they died in an accident where suicide is a possibility (for example, a drug overdose), in which case the insurer might decide to investigate further.

What if a person commits suicide after the contestability period?

Policies will vary by insurer, so we can’t speak to each one specifically. For Haven Term policyholders, in which case coverage is issued by our parent company MassMutual, few claims are denied after the two-year contestability period. (MassMutual paid $5.1 billion in insurance and annuity benefits in 2017 alone.)

Claims are always reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but generally, at this point, death by suicide is covered and eligible for a death benefit payment.

If you have purchased life insurance, you likely have loved ones whom you want to financially protect in the event something were to happen to you. Please don’t leave that up to chance and contracts.

If you’re having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Avatar

About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

Read more by Louis Wilson

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

You might also like

Get our most-read stories, twice a month

What our customers are saying

Sign up for our newsletter

Get our most-read stories, twice a month

Thanks for signing up. See you in your inbox soon.

!-- Google Tag Manager (noscript) -->