Car Insurance Policies and Fatal Car Accidents

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Some auto insurance policies have a separate category for car insurance death benefits should you or your spouse die in a car accident. The limits on this coverage are separate from medical payments coverage. Death benefits are paid upon the death of any persons named in the declarations page to the surviving spouse, parents of a minor child, or the estate of the insured individual.

KEEP IN MIND: Death benefits are OPTIONAL, so when shopping for an auto insurance policy, you will be able to choose whether or not you want to pay an additional premium for the additional coverage.

Car Insurance Death Benefits

If your car insurance policy includes automobile death benefits for insured persons, the policy will indicate the nature and extent of your coverage. Typically, car insurance death benefits are paid out if an individual named in the policy dies as a result of an injury sustained while occupying a car in a car accident or by being hit by a car. Car insurance death benefits will usually have a requirement that the death occur within a certain time after the accident, typically 90 days, and that the injured person be disabled from the time of the accident until their death. Car insurance death benefits will only pay out when it is clear the death was a result of an auto accident.

Exclusions: What Is Not Covered by Car Insurance Death Benefits

As with any insurance coverage, car insurance death benefits are not paid out if a specific exclusion applies. Each policy will carry different exclusions to death benefits coverage, so be sure to consult your insurance agent or an insurance attorney with specific questions, and keep a look out for some common exclusions such as:

  • Death resulting from injuries sustained in the course of the insured person’s occupation while engaged in duties incident to the operation, loading or unloading of a vehicle when used to carry persons or property for a charge or a commercially licensed car. This exclusion does not apply to a commercially licensed car that is described in the Declarations Page or is a private passenger car (such as a Taxi)
  • Death to persons who are not considered insured under the policy. The insured person for the purposes of death benefits coverage is a covered individual as listed in the declarations sheet. It typically includes the policy holder and their spouse, both of whom pay a separate death benefits premium. Insured person does not include relatives, members of the household, or others who use your car.
  • Death resulting form injuries sustained while at work repairing or servicing automobiles
  • Death resulting from a disease that has nothing to do with the accident. If, however, you get a pus-forming infection caused by the bodily injury from the accident, and the infection kills you, you’re covered.
  • Deaths resulting from suicide, war, accidents with farm vehicles or trains that occur off public roads, or accidents caused during a race.

KEEP IN MIND: The Insurance company can require an autopsy to determine the cause of death falls under you car insurance death coverage. You cannot deny the company this right if you want to receive the insurance benefits. If your insurance company refuses to pay death benefits after an autopsy, and you wish to challenge them, consult an experienced attorney prior to taking action.

Payment of Car Insurance Death Benefits

Your insurance policy will specify who is eligible to receive payment for death benefits. Typically the following are eligible to receive payment:

  • Surviving spouse, if the spouse is a resident of the same household as the deceased at the time of the accident.
  • Parents of the deceased, if the deceased is a minor and living with their parents at the time of the accident.
  • The estate of the insured person if neither of the above applies.

If you would like to include death benefits into your auto insurance policy, include that information when getting a quote. Click here to visit the Free Advice quote center to start shopping for car insurance today!

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