Mansell, Engel & Cole

Will a violent death mean denial of life insurance benefits?

Losing a loved one under any circumstances is hard enough, but when he or she died suddenly and violently at the hands of another person, your grief may be compounded.

No one expects his or her loved one to become the victim of murder, but it does happen. When you submitted your claim for the life insurance, the company may attempt to deny or at least delay your claim because of the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one.

Life insurance companies don't always pay

First, the life insurance company could deny you death benefits in the case of a suicide or if your loved one died violently during the commission of a crime, such as in a drunk driving incident in which your loved one was driving at or above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, which is currently 0.08 here in Oklahoma.

However, if your loved one was the victim of a violent crime perpetrated by someone else, the company should pay. If the policy is less than two years old, insurance companies often reserve the right to conduct an investigation into any suspicious death before determining whether to pay out the policy. Of course, if police believe you unlawfully killed your loved one, the insurance company may not pay you any death benefit even if the court finds you innocent.

The life insurance company try to delay paying your claim

The burden of proof in a criminal case is much stricter than in a civil court. The life insurance company may try to get a civil court to rule that you did have something to do with the death of your loved one, and therefore, deny your claim. If the court rules you had nothing to do with the death, the company should pay out your claim. If an insurance company can delay or deny a claim for any reason, it will most likely attempt to do so.

The insurance company does not care that you just lost your loved one to a violent act with which you had no involvement. It will most likely try to delay your claim as long as possible by conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one. Fortunately, you do not have to simply sit back and let the company do what it wants. You can assert your rights and fight for what our loved one wanted you to have.

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