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  • Writer's pictureAhsan Malyk

Does Life Insurance Cover Natural Death?

The idea of life insurance is unpleasant, and those who purchase it fervently hope they never need it. However, if you pass away, your loved ones will probably be grateful that you bought insurance.

Even if accidents and natural causes of death are covered by life insurance, certain conditions may bar a payout. What you should know is as follows.

Life Insurance: What Is It?

An insurance company and you, the policyholder, enter into a contract known as a life insurance policy. The insurance provider provides a death benefit to your beneficiaries in return for recurring premium payments. A financial safety net is provided through life insurance, which may be used to cover expenses such as the family's mortgage or children's college tuition and replace lost income.

Comparing term and whole life insurance

Term and whole life are the two main types of life insurance (aka permanent life insurance).

The simplest and most cost-effective kind of life insurance is term insurance. The Insurance Information Institute states that it pays if you pass away during the policy's term, which is typically one to thirty years. When the term is up, you have three options: convert the insurance to permanent coverage, let the policy lapse, or renew it for another term.

On the other hand, whole life insurance pays a death benefit whenever you pass away, regardless of how long you've owned the policy or your age. With whole life insurance, you'll pay more in premiums for less coverage, but you'll have the assurance that your loved ones are covered for the duration of your life. Whole life insurance policies can also accrue funds over time, and your insurer might pay dividends to you.

What Is Covered by Life Insurance?

Your chosen beneficiaries will generally receive the life insurance payout if you pass away from natural causes, a disease, or an accident. Here is a basic list of the types of deaths that life insurance plans cover:

Natural events

Natural deaths are covered by life insurance. Your beneficiaries will receive the insurance payout if you pass away as a result of a heart attack, cancer, infection, kidney failure, stroke, old age, or any other natural cause.


If you pass away in a car accident, by drowning, being poisoned, accidentally taking too much medication, or due to any other calamity, your life insurance policy will provide death payments to your beneficiaries.


If you are murdered, your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit unless the recipient was directly or indirectly involved in your murder.


Suppose there is no specific restriction in the policy that prohibits it. In that case, suicide is covered by life insurance, and your beneficiaries will get the death benefit unless the death happens during the "contestability period," which is normally the first two years of the policy.

Pandemic disease

If you already have coverage and pass away from COVID-19, the insurance provider will pay your beneficiaries the benefit because it is considered a natural cause of death. But let's say you apply for a new policy during a pandemic and give false information about your health or exposure to the disease. The insurer may decide not to make a payout in that situation.

Deaths Excluded from Life Insurance Coverage

Your insurer could decide not to pay the death benefit to your beneficiaries if you pass away for a cause other than one of those listed above. The following scenarios could prevent your beneficiaries from receiving benefits:

Risky pursuits

Depending on the circumstances and your insurance coverage, you could not be covered if you pass away while taking part in a risky activity. Recreational pursuits that have a higher risk of harm or death include those that are:

  • PADI diving

  • bungee leaping

  • A hang glider

  • car racing

  • Aviation

  • Mountain and rock climbing

Some occupations, such as those of a logger, pilot, worker on an offshore oil rig, offshore fisherman, and underground miner, are also included in the list of risky vocations.

You can still purchase a life insurance policy if you engage in risky activities, whether for leisure or for business, but you could have to pay higher premiums. Additionally, your insurer might include an exclusion to the policy that stops payments if you pass away while participating in that activity, depending on how risky the activity is.


According to the "Slayer Rule," your beneficiary will not be entitled to the death benefit if they murder you or are any way connected to your murder.

Your insurer will distribute the death benefit to your estate or contingent beneficiaries.


Suicide is generally covered by life insurance. However, the first two years of most policies are a "suicide clause" or contestability period. During this time, suicides are not covered by life insurance policies.

Things could get complicated if a policyholder overdose on drugs and dies during this period. In this instance, the insurer must demonstrate that the overdose was deliberate to deny the death benefit.

Other Causes Life Insurance Won't Pay Application Fraud

If you misrepresent on your application, life insurance companies may refuse to pay out death benefits (this is insurance fraud, by the way). If you give false information to the insurer, for instance, they may terminate your coverage and your beneficiaries may not receive benefits.

  • family history of illness

  • medical issues

  • drug and alcohol abuse

  • Risky pursuits

  • Planned routes

Leaving out a beneficiary (or they predecease you)

If you don't have chosen beneficiaries—or if you do and they pass away—the death benefit payout becomes difficult. In these circumstances, your estate receives the death benefit instead of necessarily your loved ones.

To ensure that the insurance death benefit is paid out in the case of your untimely passing, you must name both primary and backup beneficiaries. If not, the benefits are subject to probate and might not go where you intended in the end.


Life insurance can offer financial security and peace of mind for your loved ones. Policies typically include coverage for natural causes, disease, and accidents. However, insurers have the right to refuse payouts in some circumstances. Make sure to read the fine print of your insurance policy to determine what is and is not covered.

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