ASK A LAWYER: Life Insurance

My spouse committed suicide and the insurance company refused to pay because of how she died. We had the insurance for five years. Can they do this?

Check the wording of the policy carefully. Most life insurance policies exclude payment if the death was as a result of suicide but only for a limited period of time. In the case of a policy that was in place for five years, suicide would not usually be a valid ground for denying the claim.

My father’s life insurance company refused to pay me because of “material misrepresentation.” What does this mean?

An allegation of material misrepresentation means that the insurance company is alleging either a failure to disclose or that the applicant lied about a material fact in their medical or personal history that would have resulted in the policy never being issued from the outset.

My wife passed away recently and my children and I are the beneficiaries of her life insurance policy, which she purchased a few months before her death. The insurance company seems to be making excuses not

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to pay out, and they keep asking for access to more medical records. Why are they doing this to us?

They are looking for information to determine whether they can find a way to deny the claim based on material misrepresentation. When a death occurs within a few months of the policy being issued the suspicion levels are high and insurers will not rush to a decision to pay until a complete investigation is carried out.

And the Winner Is....

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We are pleased to announce our June contest winner: congrats to Brenda D.!

You are our 21st contestant and winner of an autographed copy of Out of the Blue: A Memoir of Workplace Depression, Recovery, Redemption and, Yes, Happiness, written by renowned journalist and author, Jan Wong. We hope you enjoy the book.

Thank you to all our contestants for participating!

A Day in History:

The stethoscope was invented in 1816 by French physician René T.H. Laennec. In his classic treatise De l´Auscultation Médiate (August 1819) he wrote:

“I happened to recollect a simple and well-known fact in acoustics... the great distinctness with which we hear the scratch of a pin at one end of a piece of wood on applying our ear to the other. Immediately, on this suggestion, I rolled a quire of paper into a kind of cylinder and applied one end of it to the region of the heart and the other to my ear, and was not a little surprised and pleased to find that I could thereby perceive the action of the heart in a manner much more clear and distinct than I had ever been able to do by the immediate application of my ear.”

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