How to Avoid Having Your Life Insurance Claim Denied

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UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonUPDATED: Jun 29, 2022Fact Checked

If you have just received your new life insurance policy, you have anxiety wondering if anything can go wrong that would cause the policy to be canceled. Once the insurance company has offered a policy and the customer has accepted it, the company is committed to the terms specified in the policy, however there is an exception provided by a clause in the life insurance policy called the contestable clause. You need to read your contestable clause so you know how long your contestability period lasts and what can result in your life insurance being canceled.

TIP: If you have any trouble understanding your contestable clause or insurance contract, don’t hesitate to ask an insurance agent for help.

Life Insurance Contestability Period

During the life insurance contestability period the company can cancel the coverage and return the premium if it discovers that the information given by the policyholder to qualify for the insurance contains major misstatements during the application process. Usually this period of time is in the first one to two years. The life insurance contestability clause provides the company a reasonable opportunity during this period to protect itself against people getting insurance that would not have qualified for it if they gave truthful information on their application. It also provides the vast majority of honest policyholders the assurance that their policies will be honored.

TIP: You should also find the policy’s incontestability clause in which the company gives up its right to challenge the life insurance contract after the specified period and agrees that it will not deny claims even if serious misstatements were made in obtaining the insurance.

Material Misstatements and Your Life Insurance Contract

Your life insurance policy will detail what type of misstatements can result in your policy being voided or a claim being denied. A material misstatement is one on the application that affected the underwriting and clearly changed the situation by either avoiding refusal by the insurer to issue the policy, or by getting better coverage or premium payments than the applicant should have. If you make an important omission by neglecting to tell the company about a major health problem which could have led the company to deny you insurance, this would be a material misstatement or omission. The insurance company would have to discover the mistake during the contestable period specified in the policy, and if they fail to do so, you can assume your policy will be honored.

If the life insurance contestability period has passed and an error that would not have led to denial of coverage is discovered then the company would normally adjust the amount of coverage to coincide with the correct age or sex.

TIP: Even an honest mistake or a change of circumstances that was unforeseen can result in a life insurance claim denial if you die during the contestable period. For example, most life insurance application ask if you plan to travel outside of the United State in the next 12 months. If you honestly answered this question no, but then, due to an unexpected change, traveled or moved to a place outside of the U.S. and die during the life insurance contestability period, then the claim on your policy would be denied.

Avoiding Contested Life Insurance

The best way to avoid any life insurance death benefit from being contested is to be truthful from the start on your life insurance application, and advise them of any changes in your life. You might pay a little more in your premium rate, but you will rest easier knowing that your life insurance will be paid to your beneficiary upon your death. If your policy has been voided, or the beneficiary is filing a claim during the contestability period that is being denied, then you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. The life insurance company may be rejecting your benefits in bad faith and an attorney can determine if you have a legitimate case and work to get you the money you deserve. Click here to find an experienced attorney that can help you today. Attorneys offer free consultations, and work on a contingency fee, so you have nothing to lose by seeking legal help.

Read more articles about understanding your life insurance policy by clicking here.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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