Can you collect life insurance if you're on Death Row?

This is not another sob story for McVeigh. . .

But alas, Poppa Trip, myself, and some other chieftains of the Tripler clan were gathered around for a family party, where Pop Trip asks, “Like, was the guy able to collect on his payments?”

IIRC, most life insurance policies don’t pay if death is ruled a non-accidental suicide (ie, they tried and carried through their own death). But homicide and accidental suicides pay the benefits. I figured that since the inmate doesn’t intend to die, usually doesn’t have the means to carry out his own suicide, and death was in fact caused by some exterior force (take the legality debate to another thread if you want) that it is in fact a form of homicide and the benefits would be paid to any survivors.

But then I thought about it some more, and thought that at any given point a smart insurance company would quietly forget to renew the policy. . . I don’t ever recall seeing a “Death Row” clause in any policy, nor does anyone else. One would think any intelligent insurance broker would realize that a claim on a Death Row inmate would be pretty rediculous, but what if they had the policy before they went to jail and kept paying the premium?

Not that I’m planning on doing anything crazy. . . :smiley:

Legal execution is not one of the payable conditions of most life insurance policies.

“Hey Al, when you write up my policy, make sure I get the money if the State offs me. Ok?”

[Insurance broker hat on}

No. See the dumbass homicidal maniac clause.

[Insurance broker hat off]

Some years back (ca. 1986-1988) I worked as an agent and registered representative for a very large insurance company with a very large rock as its mascot.

One of the interesting bits I learned about life insurance (at least as this company wrote it, but I believe they were probably acting on regulated industry norms) had to do with the suicide clause. The company would not pay the “death benefit”(now there’s an oxymoron for you!) for a suicide within the first two years. After that time, they were obligated to pay, no matter what the cause of death.

Needless to say, this postpone-your-suicide-for-two-years-and-your-family-is-home-free possibility was never discussed with clients, but it was well-known in the company offices.

An extension to the above. The company could cancel your policy in the first two years if it found that you had lied to the company about a material fact (undisclosed medical illness or high-risk occupation, etc.) that would have caused them to deny coverage had they known it. But once past the two-year limit, they were on the hook, providing you kept paying the premiums in a timely manner.

Of course, the laws may have changed since then and may be different where you live. This was just an interesting wrinkle.


Is “domestic terrorist” considered a high risk occupation, or an undisclosed medical illness?


Um, what is an accidental suicide?

Darwin Award winners, for one. Anything accidental where someone ends up killing themselves…the sad-but-chucklers…

[anecdote] I remember one of my officemate’s clients had a gas fireplace, and threw a match in – nothing happened. So he turned up the gas – nothing happened. He stuck his head in there to try to fix it – something happened. One accidental suicide.[/anecdote]

I recall a fellow who committed suicide several years ago had visited with his life insurance agent just days before and casually asked about the “suicide clause” in his policy. Because the policy had been in force for several years the agent joked that suicide was an option now (who’d have thunk?).
That story appeared in the newspaper that reported, indeed, the policy did pay off.
In the case of McVeigh it seems the question would be when he took out the policy.
If he took out the policy after the bombing the company might claim that his landing on death row could be considered a preexisting condition.