Does life insurance cover suicide?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide rates in the US have risen by over 35% since 1999. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide and the 2nd most common cause of death for people under 35.

Losing a loved one to suicide can come with painful questions. Those left behind are often faced with concerns about how to take care of day-to-day expenses and meet future needs, with no guarantee of financial protection.

If your loved one died by suicide with a life insurance policy, will their death be covered? Understanding how insurance companies treat suicide in their insurance policies can help provide clarity and peace of mind during a difficult time.

Does life insurance cover suicide?

Life insurance policies generally have a suicide clause, which means the policy won’t pay out if suicide is the cause of death. Suicide clauses are meant to help prevent people from buying policies immediately before taking their lives so that their families can receive financial benefits.

This exclusion clause is largely temporary and often put in force for a specific period, however, typically one to two years after the policy is bought. The length of time allowed for a suicide exclusion clause may be limited by state, so be sure to check the laws in the applicable jurisdiction.

The suicide clause also generally includes situations of physician-assisted suicide. In the U.S., only five states currently have laws in place that protect citizens’ rights to assisted suicide: California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Vermont.

How do I claim the life insurance payout of a loved one who died by suicide?

As the beneficiary, it’s your responsibility to claim the policy payout. To get started, you’ll need to provide a copy of the deceased’s policy and a certified copy of their death certificate.

Once you’ve submitted your claim, the insurance company will determine whether you’re eligible for the payment based on the terms of your loved one’s policy.

Even if you don’t think the claim will be paid out, it’s important to follow up with the insurer. Though the policy may not cover your loved one’s death, the company will generally still return any premiums paid for a term or permanent life insurance policy.

Life insurance and depression

Depression is one of the mental illnesses most commonly linked to suicide. If you have a history of depression, including attempted suicide, it may still be possible to get coverage, but you will likely be asked to provide more information about your condition.

The insurance company will probably ask you about:

  • The severity of your depression
  • How long ago you were diagnosed
  • Whether you’re being treated by a healthcare professional
  • Any treatment plans, including medication and therapy

You will also generally be asked about your family’s medical history and your overall health and lifestyle. The insurer may contact your healthcare provider for more details and to confirm your diagnosis and treatment. They’ll then decide what kind of coverage they can offer you, based on your condition and risk factor.

Don’t let your concerns about mental health prevent you from seeking financial protection for those you love.

Still have questions?

At Fidelity Life, we’re here to help every step of the way. Get in touch with us to speak with one of our agents.

If you are struggling with depression or have thoughts of suicide, know that you’re not alone.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support 24/7 at 1 (800) 273-8255 or via chat on their website. You can also get support through the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran, get in touch with the Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1 (800) 273-8255 (ext 1), texting 838255, or starting an online chat.

At Fidelity Life, our goal is to make life insurance simple, affordable, and understandable for everyday families. This content is intended for educational purposes only. Each post is carefully fact-checked, reviewed, and updated regularly to ensure the information is as relevant as possible.

Citations — 4 sources

  1. 1. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  1. 2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  1. 3. Crisis Text Line
  1. 4. Veterans Crisis Line