Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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IMPORTANT: If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide for the life insurance benefits and needs help then call the United States National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit for suicide prevention assistance.

Adjustor Determines if Death is Suicide for Life Insurance Benefits

When someone dies, it is up to the insurance adjustor in charge of the case to determine the cause of death, such a suicide, accidental death, murder, etc.

Many people don’t realize that it is the insurance adjustor that has to be convinced before they can receive the insurance benefit from the insurance company.

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The cause of death has an impact on whether or not life insurance benefits will be paid out. By understanding the process, you may feel like you have more control in this tragic situation

What Happens After Someone Dies

After someone who has a life insurance policy dies, it is up to the family to inform the insurance company of the individual’s death. Proof of the death will have to be provided as well in the form of an official death certificate. The death certificate will state the medical examiner’s or coroner’s official cause of death; however, it is up to the insurance company to determine whether they want to investigate the death further. In any case, an adjustor will be assigned to the case.

In a majority of cases, the adjustor will report on the coroner’s findings rather than trying to open a new investigation him or herself. They will, however, meet with the beneficiaries of the insurance company to ask some questions. This is a standard operating procedure and should in no way be misconstrued as being targeted by the insurance company or as harassment.

The insurance company wants to ensure that they are paying the money to the right person as well as certain for themselves that everything seems on the level in regards to the way the person died.

When you are interviewed by an insurance adjustor, it is important that you answer all of their questions as honestly as you can.

If you seem reluctant to answer questions, it may delay your receiving the benefit that you are expecting from the life insurance policy.

This process is relatively short and if everything seems okay to the adjustor you can expect to receive your benefit in about a week.

If the insurance adjustor suspects that the death certificate isn’t telling the whole story then they will review medical records, psychiatric records, and even criminal records. This is especially true if the insured person dies within two years of purchasing the life insurance policy.

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Why the Life Insurance Company Won’t Pay

life insurance benefits for suicide

When someone purchases a life insurance policy, the expectation is that they will pay premiums until they die. When someone is young, their premiums are lower because they will be less likely to die from natural causes. As a person ages their premiums increase because their risk of death increases.

When you purchase a life insurance policy, you are in essence telling the insurance company that you plan on living for a while and you want to have insurance in case of your death, not because you are planning your death.

If a person commits suicide then they are misrepresenting themselves to the insurance company and that is the grounds by which the policy will be denied. The same thing happens if a person dies of lung cancer from smoking but did not tell the insurance company that they smoked or if someone has a pre-diagnosed condition that causes their death but did not inform the insurance company.

All of these things would constitute fraud in other situations but, as the insured is deceased, the insurance company calls it something else.

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When the Insurance Company Will Pay and What to Do if They Won’t

Many people are under the impression that if a person kills themselves that the insurance policy won’t pay out. That just isn’t the case. First of all, most states have very specific laws about when an insurance company has to pay beneficiaries when a policyholder commits suicide. In most states, the insurance company has to pay something to the beneficiary if at least two years has passed since the policy was taken out. Need to know how do you find out if you are a beneficiary? Click here.

Some states require a payout in as little as one year.

Some insurance companies have stipulations in their contracts that the payout is only a percentage of the total benefit or they pay back the premiums that have been paid for the policy.

Each insurance company, however, has to work within the confines of the laws of the state in which you purchase your policy. If you aren’t sure if the insurance company is working within the boundaries of your state laws, you can check your Department of Insurance to determine what your rights are.

If the insurance company refuses to pay the policy benefits because they or the coroner has determined that the insured death was a suicide then you have a couple of options available to you. If you don’t believe that the person who died committed suicide you can request an independent investigation. If the new investigation produces new evidence then the insurance company will have to reopen the case; although you may have to compel them to do so with a court order.

There may be some situations where you will have to take the insurance company to court in order to receive any of the benefit. Again, this will depend on the laws in your state. Some insurance companies have a policy of not paying in cases of a suicide, regardless of how much time has passed. Often the hope is that you won’t pursue a legal course to receive the benefit. Many will pay the full benefit or offer a settlement if you take the steps to take the insurance company to court; others will require you to go through the entire court process.

determines paying out life insuranceIt is important to know the insurance laws in your state so that you don’t lose a benefit that you are entitled to simply because you are unaware of your rights when it comes to the suicide of a loved one.

The truth is that most people who commit suicide won’t wait the two year minimum that most states offer. If your loved one takes out an life insurance policy and then commits suicide six months later then the case is pretty cut and dry and you won’t receive any benefits (although you may get the premiums from the policy back). If, however, the two year time frame passes, then you may have some recourse. Don’t take the insurance company’s decision for granted, they may be in the wrong and you have a right to fight for your benefit.

Regardless of the situation you are in, having life insurance is important if you have family members who count on you for provision. Having the right policy in place can save your loved ones a lot of grief when you die. Don’t leave your family wondering how they are going to get on without you; it is enough that they have to live without you, prevent a financial crisis by purchasing the best policy for you and your family.

Take care of your loved ones by entering your ZIP code and comparing life insurance quotes today.