Willl homeowners insurance pay in a murder-suicide involving a fire?

UPDATED: May 14, 2011

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UPDATED: May 14, 2011Fact Checked

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Willl homeowners insurance pay in a murder-suicide involving a fire?

My father shot and killed his wife (not my mother), set their home on fire, and then shot and killed himself. There was homeowners insurance. Will they pay since the fire was intentional and, if so, are my siblings and I entitled to anything or will it go to his wife’s children?

Asked on May 14, 2011 under Insurance Law, Pennsylvania


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation.  What you really need to do is to read the insurance policy.  But I can tell you that generally speaking, every insurance policy has what is known as an Intentional Act exclusion that is what it says: a clause that allows the insurance company to deny coverage fo an intentional act.  Now, just because the policy has the clause does not mean that the clause is legal.  Cases have been litigated over the issue and it comes down to the interpretation of the clause by the courts.  I would, therefore, tell you to seek help from an attorney in your area familiar with this type of litigation.  Now, as for who gets the proceeds, that may als be sticky.  Each state has a law that says that you can not collect as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy of someone that you killed.  But this is not a life insurance policy.  And there may be issues of probate that need to be determined.  She died first so technically his estate would get the proceeds but she died at his hand so there will be litigation here on the matter as I am sure that the wife's family will object to that scenario.  Good luck here.   

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