You might be wondering, “Can I get life insurance if I have a terminal illness or commit suicide?” Hopefully, you don’t commit suicide or have or come down with a terminal illness. But the straightforward answer is it depends.
Unfortunately, during the lockdown period to fight the coronavirus, I’ve seen interest in life insurance and suicide tick up. Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to the lockdowns. Businesses are going under. And in general, there’s this hopelessness in the air.
I’ve got life insurance to help eliminate all my mortgage debt and provide a financial cushion to my loved ones if I were to prematurely pass. With two kids and a wife to take care of now, it would be irresponsible for me not to get life insurance.
However, what about getting life insurance if you have a terminal illness or whether you’re contemplating committing suicide?
To answer the question, “Can I get life insurance if I have a terminal illness or plan to commit suicide,” I’ve asked the CEO of PolicyGenius, Francois de Lame. Francois and I met up in NYC a years ago and have stayed in touch.
PolicyGenius is a leading insurance marketplace where consumers with one application can easily compare life insurance quotes from many life insurance providers. Instead of applying to each life insurance carrier one by one, it’s much better to apply in a central location and have qualified carriers compete for your business.
Francois: If you commit suicide within the first two years of holding a life insurance policy, the death benefit is not paid out. Only the premiums paid on the policy would be paid out to your beneficiaries. After two years, unless specifically excluded by the policy, the life insurance company will pay out the death benefit for a suicide.
Francois: If you have an illness or condition, you could still get life insurance, but it would be at a higher cost than if you were in perfect health. Life insurance companies will have you take a medical exam, ask you detailed questions about your health history, check databases to see if you’ve had any prescriptions filled that could indicate illness and may also request medical records as part of underwriting – including talking to your physicians. So there’s a high likelihood that if you don’t tell, they’ll find out.
Also, if they don’t find out about your illness and they give you coverage, but you die from that illness within the first two years of the policy being active, carriers can request/require an autopsy and choose not to pay if it’s determined you knew about a condition and withheld that information for the purpose of deceiving the life insurance company to get a better rate. But in that case, the premiums paid in would be refunded to your beneficiaries.
Francois: If you have a terminal illness, you would not qualify for regular life insurance. You might be able to get an accident-only policy (that only pays out if you die from an accidental cause of death) or maybe an expensive guaranteed-issue policy for a low amount.
The key is to get life insurance before you get sick. Here are all the life insurance options to consider. Some include final expense insurance a simplified issue life insurance that can help if you don’t qualify for the traditional term life insurance or a type of permanent life insurance policy.
Francois: If the developed illness was not something that the insured was aware of, or had sought treatment for, then there shouldn’t be a contestable claim—either within the two year period, or after.
The carrier will likely investigate the situation, if within the two year contestability period, but as long as there wasn’t something that wasn’t disclosed on the app/exam/underwriting process, then there shouldn’t be an issue. If there was info that wasn’t disclosed, that led to the death, then the carrier would have a legitimate right to contest the claim.
The key takeaway from this post is to not commit suicide or die within two years from an illness after you take out a life insurance policy. Otherwise, your life insurance policy probably won’t pay out to your beneficiaries.
If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to friends or loved ones for support. If they aren’t there for you, please call the 24/7 suicide hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. Really talk to someone who can provide you love and support.
It’s important to know the rules when taking out any insurance policy. You might think you are covered for X, but you might only be covered for Y.
Nobody knows your health more than you. I’ve spoken to many doctor friends who admitted that diagnosing illnesses and treating conditions are often highly subjective. Even if someone tells you you have a terminal illness, nobody really knows until you’re dead. Therefore, if you have dependents and aren’t feeling too healthy, all the more reason to get life insurance.
Thanks again to Francois from PolicyGenius for answering my questions! PolicyGenius is a great platform to find the cheapest and best term life insurance for you all in one place.
Updated for 2021 and beyond