Suicide is a highly prevalent public health issue in the UK. In 2020, 115 people per week died by suicide – 75% of whom were male.

Naturally, questions around suicide can come up when looking into life insurance. After all, it’s an insurance policy designed to pay out if you die – so your health and the nature of your death will inevitably be factored into any decisions the insurer has to make.

Below, we explain all you need to know about what is and isn’t covered, and what to look out for in a policy when it comes to mental health.

Does life insurance pay out for suicide?

It depends. Some policies come with a suicide exclusion, which means your life insurance won’t pay out if you die by suicide within a certain time frame. Others don’t have a suicide exclusion. And all life insurance claims depend on you having been totally honest during the application process.

In general, it won’t pay out if:

  • Your policy has a suicide exclusion and you die by suicide within the excluded time frame (usually the first 1 or 2 years of taking out the policy)
  • You die by suicide at any time during your policy term and the insurer discovers you were dishonest about your health history when taking out the policy (e.g. not disclosing previous mental health issues)

In general, it will pay out if:

  • You die by suicide and your policy doesn’t have a suicide exclusion
  • Your policy has a suicide exclusion but you die by suicide after the excluded time frame (e.g. more than 1 or 2 years after taking out the policy)
  • You were accurate and honest about your health history when taking out the policy – e.g. disclosing any previous mental health issues

Read more in our guide to when life insurance pays out.

What happens if my claim is declined because of suicide?

If your loved ones are unsuccessful in claiming on your life insurance policy because you have died by suicide, most insurers will refund any premiums paid on the policy up until your death.

Can I take out life insurance if I’ve attempted suicide?

Like any health condition, having had poor mental health or having attempted suicide in the past shouldn’t stop you from taking out life insurance. That said, it always depends on when it was. The more recent it was, the riskier you’ll seem to an insurer.

If you’ve attempted suicide in the past but you want to apply for life insurance, it’s likely that your application would have to go through manual underwriting. This is when the insurer weighs up how much of a risk you are to insure, how much you should pay for cover, or whether your application is too high risk altogether.

The outcome of underwriting depends on your individual circumstances. Typically, the insurer might:

  • Insure you as normal (if the attempt was a very long time ago)
  • Insure you at a higher premium (if it was more recent)
  • Decline your application (if it was very recent)
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What if I attempt suicide after taking out life insurance?

This wouldn’t affect your policy. Your health history might affect you when taking out life insurance (by increasing the price or even making you ineligible with some insurers) – but once your life insurance terms are agreed, the insurer can’t change them, whatever happens to your physical or mental health while you’re insured.

Do I need to disclose any mental health issues?

Being honest and accurate about your health history during a life insurance application is paramount. If you’ve ever had any physical or mental illness, you must tell the insurer. If you don’t, you risk invalidating your policy – meaning it wouldn’t pay out if you died and your loved ones tried to make a claim.

Read more in our guide to life insurance and mental health.

  • Some life insurance policies have a suicide exclusion – meaning they won’t pay out if you die by suicide in the first 1 or 2 years of being insured
  • Life insurance would only pay out for suicide if your policy doesn’t have a suicide exclusion or if you die by suicide after the excluded time frame
  • It’s very important to disclose any previous or existing health issues when you apply for life insurance, including mental ill health and/or suicide attempts
  • A suicide attempt while you’re insured won’t affect your existing policy

This post is intended for informative purposes only and does not constitute advice.