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Ten Times a Life Insurance Policy Will NOT Pay Out

March 4, 2014

life insurance close upWhen you sign your name at the bottom of a life insurance policy, the goal is to protect your family in the event you die of natural cause or disease. However, there are situations where a life insurance policy will not pay out. Sometimes it’s a missed detail or an intentionally dishonest statement on the policy holder’s behalf – either way, the effects can be devastating, especially in a time of extreme emotional turmoil.

To prepare, here are ten instances a life insurance policy will not pay out:

  1. The policy doesn’t cover your specific situation
    Not unlike auto insurance or home insurance, all policies have different nuances to them. Before you sign off on a policy be sure to shop around and see if there’s a policy that fits your specific needs.
  2. You were dishonest in your answers
    Every life insurance policy has an “incontestability period” – a window of time for the provider to dispute a policy’s validity based on information provided incorrectly on the application. Take for example you said you were a non-smoker in your policy but a year or later you started smoking the odd cigarette while out at the bars, eventually contracting lung cancer. If your insurance company finds out about this, they can void the policy.
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  4. Disability and critical illness
    Unfortunately, most life insurance policies don’t cover disability and critical illness. However, a separate policy can be purchased that is specifically designed to cover and address some of the financial stress caused by serious illnesses like cancer, heart attacks, etc. The difference between the two is that for life insurance to be paid out, the insured has to die, critical illness insurance on the other hand, is a living benefit, meaning it doesn’t need to be a terminal illness for the benefit to be paid and the sum is paid to the insured not a beneficiary or dependent.
  5. Your beneficiary is under 18
    If the beneficiary is under the age of 18 then the money won’t be paid out, it will be paid to a trustee designated by the insured.
  6. Discrepancies between life insurance policy and the will
    A designation in a will cannot override a designation of an earlier beneficiary on a will unless the policy in question is named in the will. For example, if you get divorced and remarry but your ex-wife’s name is on the insurance policy as your beneficiary then the policy will be paid to your ex-wife even if the will designates the second wife as the beneficiary.
  7. You die beyond your term
    It’s possible to purchase a policy valid only until a certain age or for a certain number of years. Living past this age means the insurance is invalid.
  8. Suicide
    Contrary to popular belief, insurance policies do cover suicides – albeit after a contestable period which is usually two years or so. The reason there’s a contestable period is that insurance companies would likely suffer financially if they paid out right away. Someone planning suicide could buy a policy right before they ended their life.
  9. You were in a restricted country or killed by an act of war
    A common exclusion in many policies prevents payout in the event of accidental death caused by an “act of war” or death “while in active military service.” Adventure-seekers or those visiting restricted countries or areas embroiled in politically turmoil usually aren’t covered as well.
  10. You die in a high-risk activity
    It seems like a given but in many cases, insurance policies will include a clause that says the insurer won’t cover death by extreme sports or high risk activities like sky-diving or acrobatic flying.
  11. The premium hasn’t been paid
    Policies typically include a 30-day grace period after the due date to pay a premium. If the premium is not paid in this time, the policy is apt to lapse unless of course the death occurred during that period. In that case, the premium will be deducted from the benefit paid.
  • Amelia Willson

    Very informative content !

    Going to read more of your articles

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Thank you!

  • delicate white.

    Insurance companies are corrupt and dishonest.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


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  • InsuranceHotline

    I haven’t heard of that. You should contact the insurance company ombudsperson to see if they can help you

  • InsuranceHotline

    Typically, a DNR is requested for a terminally ill patient and as such in most cases will not affect the life insurance. But, since not all policies are the same, it’s best to check the policy to be sure.

  • Linda Darlene Rosenbalm Olvera

    This is most likely a dumb question but my Mom very recently passed away. She had two life insurance policies one which she purchased in 1999 and paid on until 10/17 when she was diagnosed with dementia. After all the years she paid on it is she entitled to anything as far as coverage?

  • InsuranceHotline

    I’m sorry for your loss. If the policy was in force at the time of your mum’s, death then it’s possible that there may be a payout due to the beneficiary. Check with the company to confirm the dates.