Does Life Insurance Cover Suicide?
It’s a tragic fact that more than 6,000 people take their own life in the UK and Ireland each year*.
Suicide is a difficult subject matter, but since life insurance policies are designed to protect families in the event of the insured person’s death, it’s reasonable to ask whether life insurance covers suicide.
In this guide, we’ll explore this topic in more detail, and share valuable resources if you or anyone else has had suicidal thoughts.
Does life insurance cover suicide?
If you pass away due to suicide or intentional and serious self-injury within the first year of taking out a life insurance policy, then your life insurance doesn’t cover this. This also applies in cases where, in our reasonable opinion, the insured person took their own life.
By putting this one-year policy in place, we can reduce the financial incentive for someone to tragically take their own life in the hope of triggering a life insurance pay-out, however unimaginable that may seem. Beyond this period of one year, this exclusion doesn't apply and so we will assess all life insurance claims as we would any other claim where someone has passed away.
How we assess life insurance suicide claims
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a death, it may be investigated by a coroner, who may ask for a post-mortem or hold an inquest. If the coroner concludes that the death came as a result of suicide or intentional and serious self injury, the life insurance policy will be cancelled, if the death occurred within a year of the policy start date.
However, even without the coroner’s verdict of suicide, we may decide in our reasonable opinion that the insured person took their own life. We’ll consider the method and timing of the death, any documentation left by the deceased or anyone else, and the evidence available from the time and location of the death.
The full terms & conditions can be found in the Policy Booklet.
Does a mental health condition affect a life insurance claim?
There is no single factor behind why someone might take their own life, but as the Samaritans have observed, mental health issues as well as alcohol and substance misuse, can play a role. When you apply for life insurance, you’ll need to disclose any mental health conditions you have, the severity of your symptoms, details of any medication you take, the date you were diagnosed and confirmation of any hospital admissions or specialist referrals.
For most applications where the anxiety, depression or stress is considered mild, we are able to offer cover on our standard rates. Depending on the severity of your mental health condition, we may charge higher premiums, or decline to offer cover.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, you should first and foremost get the support you need – we’ve listed some resources below. Read more about life insurance and your mental health.
* Source: https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/media-guidelines/suicide-facts-journalists/
Where to get help
If you’re going through a difficult time, the most important thing is that you get the support you need. The Samaritans offer free, round-the-clock telephone conversations throughout the year, and encourage anyone who’s struggling to cope to call 116 123 (UK and Ireland).
If you’re having difficulty with your mental health, NHS England has online resources on a variety of issues, and if you make an appointment with your GP they should be able to refer you to NHS mental health services.
In Scotland, Breathing Space is a national phone line and support service funded by the Scottish government’s Mental Health Unit. Mind Cymru offers dedicated support for those experiencing mental health problems in Wales, while in Northern Ireland, MindWise offer guides and information for people affected my mental health issues.