As painful as it is to discuss the topic, “suicide and life insurance” is an area where most people are woefully misinformed. Until recently, even the lawyers at Curtis | Walton Law were unaware of insurance law for suicide cases in Colorado. That was until a client of ours went through this terrible situation. While mourning, the family was also left confused and frustrated when the deceased’s life insurer was not forthcoming with them.
To promote a better understanding of such a painful subject, Curtis | Walton Law wants you to have current and accurate information. This way, you will find yourself prepared when the last thing you feel like doing is dealing with an insurance provider should you be faced with such a tragedy. Read on to learn about how a recent Colorado Supreme Court case decided when life insurance pays out for suicide.
Colorado Revised Statute § 10-7-109 Suicide - “No Defense for Nonpayment”
Contrary to commonly held beliefs, beneficiaries of a life insurance policy are still entitled to payment of benefits when a policyholder commits suicide. The only caveat is that the policy must be in existence for at least 12 months prior to the suicide. This applies whether the suicide is intentional or accidental.
A 2020 Colorado Supreme Court case titled Amica Life Insurance Co. v. Wertz tested Colorado’s “suicide statute.” Amica Life Insurance asked our courts to decide whether Amica could deny payment of life insurance benefits since its policy contained a two-year suicide exclusion. The Court ruled Amica’s two-year exclusion is unenforceable and void because it is contrary to Colorado’s statutory law. Specifically, Colorado Revised Statute §10-7-109 limits such exclusions to a one-year duration, which begins when the life insurance policy is issued.
In conclusion, Colorado law recognizes that a mental health issue like depression can sometimes be just as deadly as a physical health issue like terminal cancer.
If you are someone you know may have thoughts of committing suicide know there is help available and people who care. Listed below are the Colorado Suicide Hotlines.
Colorado Suicide Hotlines:
- Arvada – (303) 425-0300
- Boulder – (303) 447-1665
- Colorado Springs – (719) 635-7000
- Denver – (303) 860-1200
- Englewood – (303) 795-6187
- Greeley – (970) 353-3686
- Fort Collins – (970) 221-2114
- Pueblo – (719) 544-1133
If you are a beneficiary of a life insurance policy due to suicide and the insurance company is refusing to pay, then contact our firm’s bad faith insurance expert, Danielle Curtis, founding partner of Curtis | Walton Law. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients.