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Call for providers to set out assisted suicide policy

Protection advisers have called on life companies to clarify whether they will pay out in cases of assisted suicide.

Zurich, Aviva, Aegon, Friends Life, PruProtect, Bright Grey, LV= and Ageas Protect all confirm they do not have any exclusions for assisted suicide cases and say each case would be treated on an individual basis.

It is illegal in the UK to help someone with a terminal illness end their life, meaning many people travel to Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe where there are more liberal laws.

Earlier this month, the Independent Commission on Assisted Dying published a report calling for assisted suicides to be legalised for people with certain terminal illnesses.

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey (pictured) says: “Insurers should look at this because there needs to be clarification. It could be argued that if a person who is a beneficiary of a life policy caused their partner’s death and so caused the situation where the insurance would pay out, then they would be barred from getting that money because people cannot benefit from the proceeds of a crime.”

Plan Money director Peter Chadborn says: “There needs to be some clarification. It is not legal to help someone end their life in the UK but we need to know how it would be dealt with, especially if the assisted suicide took place in another country.”

Pinsent Masons partner Bruno Geiringer says: “I think in the UK most insurers would probably apply to the court for a declaration to see whether a claimant who is making a claim should benefit if he or she is found guilty of killing someone. I suspect the court would say this person should not benefit. This might be different if it occurred somewhere like Switzerland because Swiss law would apply.”

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I think you are worrying about nothing guys.

    Companies are reluctant to come out and make black and white statements on this sort of subject because of the risk of it back firing in some way.

    For the same reason no insurer would refuse to pay such a claim as long as full disclosure was made on the application and there were no suspicious circumstances.

    Have you heard of one of these claims not being paid – well there you are…

  2. Maybe I am missing the point here….. but do most if not all life term policies not have terminal illness included anyway (bar the last 12/18 months)? Therefore the policy will generally be paid out prior to actual death occurs?

  3. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Motor Neurone Disease often have a lengthy period prior to death.

    Surely the issue is that assisting somebody to die is being viewed as murder and we know that insurance law precludes somebody from benefiting from the proceeds of crime.

    Clarification is exactly what is needed

  4. Thanks Alan, but if the life expectancy is 10 years + is assisted suicide really an option that should be considered? I understand each case on its own merits depending on severity and anticipated drop in quality of living etc

  5. Jerry is spot on – this is nothing to worry about.

    More to the point – I imagine that any company that tried to turn such a claim down would be hounded in the media – it wouldn’t be worth it.

    The point about TI is one I made to the jounalist writing the story.

    The suicide exclusion in year one that appears on sime polices is there to prevent people taking out policies with the specific intention of committing suicide.

    I the tragic circumstances we are talking about here someone may have had a policy for 20 years – it will most likely it would pay a TI claim before we would even need to worry

  6. Crickey – news must have been short this week if this is what we are discussing

    Jerry Brown has answered the point. Lets find some more meaningful to print

  7. Anonymous – How insensitive are you? “Meaningful”?

    Unfortunately, for some severely disabled people in certain situations, this is a very serious subject which needs to be aired and tackled – if only for a person’s peace of mind on how their partner or family member will fare after they’ve gone. It’s a case of balancing burden and guilt and “Anonymous” has obviously never had to suffer any such family circumstance.

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