The benefits of having life insurance are numerous. It provides peace of mind and a sense of security for you and your family, and if something were to happen to you, your life insurance policy will act as a financial safety net for the loved ones you leave behind. But what if you were to pass away and your family were denied their benefits due to a loophole in your policy?
Unfortunately, it can happen. After all, a life insurance policy is a legal contract, and like most legal documents, they come with their fair share of fine print. So with that in mind, here are 4 key loopholes to be aware of when signing your policy.
The Contestability Period
Each life insurance policy includes what is called the contestability period. During this period, which is usually the first two years after the policy goes into effect, the insurance company may cancel your policy if they are able to determine that you omitted or misrepresented any information about yourself, your health, or your hobbies. And it really doesn’t matter if you deliberately lied about your condition, or simply forgot about a minor issue because it doesn’t really affect your daily life. Even if a claim has already been filed, the insurer may still cancel the policy.
Most policies also include clauses regarding suicide wherein the beneficiaries may be denied your life insurance payout if you are found to have died by suicide within a certain period of time. In most cases this also only applies to the first two or three years after the policy has been issued, although it is separate from the contestability period. However, although your family will be denied their full benefits, many insurers will refund premiums paid prior to your death.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Generally drug and alcohol exclusions state that a life insurance claim can be denied if death occurs while the insured is under the influence. And just like the omission of minor health problems, this clause allows your insurance company to deny a claim even if your death has nothing to do with drug or alcohol use. Drug and alcohol exclusions can vary quite a bit from company to company, so definitely keep your eye out for them when reading over your policy.
This one is pretty straight forward. If you happen to pass away while doing something illegal, your insurance company may deny death benefits to your beneficiaries. This applies to pretty much any illegal activity from trespassing to robbing a bank. So, in many instances, its best to just follow the law. The lesson here is to read carefully. Look over a few different policies from competing companies and make sure that you scour the fine print before signing anything. Just as you would compare life insurance rates, compare the terms of the policy as well. And whatever you do, do not lie on your application, and try to be as thorough as you can about your medical history. Failure to do so could result in leaving your family empty handed.