Life Insurance Lawyer Idaho

Whether you reside in: Pocatello; Caldwell; Idaho Falls; Nampa; Meridian; or Boise; our life insurance attorneys who live and work here in Idaho are here to help resolve your delayed or denied life insurance claim.

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Almost to the brink of death

Does death during autoerotic asphyxiation trigger the suicide exclusion of a life insurance policy?

The death of a loved one is a particularly difficult thing to experience. Unfortunately, the pain can be exacerbated if that person dies in a way that causes embarrassment or discomfort for the family. That is often the case when a person accidentally dies while performing autoerotic asphyxiation.

To add insult to injury, the loved ones who are left behind will are likely to also face increased legal and financial hurdles. In particular, if the deceased had a life insurance policy in place, any claims made under that policy will likely be denied outright by the insurance company. This is because most life insurers still view autoerotic asphyxiation as a form of suicide and most policies exclude coverage if a policyholder commits suicide during the policy term.

Life insurance companies also know that the beneficiaries under these policies may be too embarrassed or too upset to contest a claim involving autoerotic asphyxiation. As attorneys who specialize in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims, however, we’re here to tell you that these life insurance claim denials get overturned all the time. Moreover, you never need to be ashamed or embarrassed when dealing with our team of professionals. We will represent you with the respect and dignity you deserve.

What is autoerotic asphyxiation?

Autoerotic asphyxiation is the act of depriving one’s brain of sufficient oxygen while simultaneously masturbating. This is often achieved via a noose around one’s neck. This process of nearly starving the brain of oxygen is said to greatly increase the pleasurable sensation of orgasm.

Studies have shown that the vast majority of people who perform autoerotic asphyxiation do not die as a result of the process. Indeed, most noose systems that are created for this act are what are referred to as “soft nooses.” That means that as soon as the participant loses consciousness and his body relaxes, the noose around his neck loosens. That, in turn, allows his body to resume normal blood flow to the brain and shortly thereafter, he regains consciousness.

Unfortunately, from time to time, something goes wrong and a person dies as a result of autoerotic asphyxiation. If that person happens to die with a life insurance policy in place, the insurer almost always denies any and all claims against the policy. As noted above, insurers typically justify their denials by claiming the insured died while engaged in an act of suicide.

Why autoerotic asphyxiation is not suicide

Perhaps surprisingly, several cases involving autoerotic asphyxiation and life insurance have made their way into American courthouses. Almost without fail, the main issue in the case is whether autoerotic asphyxiation constitutes suicide, such that the life insurance company can deny claims based on a suicide exclusion. In the majority of cases, judges and juries have answered that question with a resounding “no.” Their reasoning is sound.

First, let’s take a look at the language of a typical suicide exclusion. In most life insurance policies, they read something like this:

The insurer shall have no responsibility to remit a death benefit payment to the policy beneficiary if the insured died as the result of an intentional act that is reasonably certain to cause death.

In determining whether autoerotic asphyxiation constitutes an act that would trigger a provision such as this, most courts have focused on the word “intentional.” They have found that the intent discussed in these provisions refers to the intentional act of ending one’s own life.

Relatedly, they have found that the actual intent behind autoerotic asphyxiation is sexual pleasure. The intent is not to commit suicide. Consequently, courts routinely overturn claim denials based on the suicide exclusion when autoerotic asphyxiation resulted in death.

Is autoerotic asphyxiation intentional self-harm?

Some life insurance policies also have a coverage exclusion if the policyholder dies while performing an act intended to cause self-harm. The argument from insurers here is nearly identical to the one they use when they invoke the suicide exclusion. In essence, the insurer is saying that the act of autoerotic asphyxiation, in and of itself, is intended to cause self-harm.

As they’ve done with invocation of the suicide exclusion, courts have largely rejected the notion that autoerotic asphyxiation equates to intentional self-harm. Again, the focus is on the word “intent.” And again, courts tend to find that the deceased didn’t intend to cause himself harm when he engaged in the practice of autoerotic asphyxiation. What he intended was pleasure. Accordingly, the self-harm exclusions are frequently rejected by courts as a basis for denying life insurance claims.

What autoerotic asphyxiation cases treat us about life insurance

Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways from cases involving life insurance denials and autoerotic asphyxiation is this: insurance companies will deny valid claims for death benefits even when they know they are standing on shaky legal grounds. Over and over and over, courts have ruled that autoerotic asphyxiation is not intentional suicide and is not intentional self-harm. Yet life insurers keep denying such claims on a routine basis.

Why? Like we said at the outset of the article, they do it because they think they can get away with it. They do it because they’re hoping beneficiaries will be too ashamed or embarrassed to appeal a claim denial. They do it hoping, in fact, that those beneficiaries will be too embarrassed to call a lawyer specializing in the wrongful denial of life insurance claims.

If you’re facing this or a similar situation, please don’t let the life insurance companies intimidate you in this manner. Our staff of dedicated professionals is happy to talk to you. You won’t receive any judgment from us. To the contrary, we will thoroughly evaluate your situation and let you know if we believe we can successfully contest the claim denial. If so, we hope you find solace in the fact that we’ll take over all communications with the life insurer about this issue.

Give us a call today. We’re here to help.

Idaho denied life insurance claims are nothing new. Existing for many years, life insurance policies have been used to safeguard families and friends alike in case emergencies or accidents come unexpectedly. Unfortunately, denials of life insurance claims, as well as delays, are commonplace.
Our life insurance lawyers who live and work in Idaho can help, whether you are in: Boise; Meridian; Nampa; Idaho Falls; Pocatello Caldwell; or anywhere in the state of Idaho, we will get you the benefits to which you are entitled.
Idaho Life Insurance Law
Policies through work are governed under ERISA. The primary regulating force here in Idaho is Title 41 of the Idaho Statutes, and oversight is provided by the Idaho Department of Insurance.
Most Common Reasons for a Denied Life Insurance Claim in Idaho
  • Number one is a misrepresentation on the application. This typically involves failing to disclose a medical condition. However, we can get over this hurdle the majority of the time.
  • A lapse of a life insurance policy is probably second most common. What happens is that the insured gets sick and misses a payment or two. These are tough, but often we can get these claims paid.
  • Probably third is the type of death exclusion. This could be a suicide or it could be a self-inflicted injury. Murder is another exclusion. Health again can fall under this exclusion. We often win suicide exclusions as we cite case law that the death was actually accidental.
  • A very common exclusion is the alcohol exclusion. The insured may have been killed in a car crash, but the autopsy revealed alcohol in the person’s system. We have many legal briefs to combat this exclusion.
  • Heroin and opiates or illegal drug exclusion is one of the biggest now. With the opioid crisis, there are tens of thousands of deaths.
  • Prescription drug overdose exclusion may involve an overdose of medicine or taken medicines that are contraindicated.
  • An ex-spouse being cut off from life insurance benefits is a big one. We actually have a half dozen ways to get over this hurdle.
  • Having a spouse not listed as a beneficiary is another reason for denial
  • Having a child not listed as a beneficiary is one too.
  • Having only a primary beneficiary who is deceased is another.
  • On an AD&D (accidental death and dismemberment) life insurance policy, a fall not being considered an accident is extremely common.
  • The insured’s age not being correct on the initial application is a reason for denial.
  • Having the wrong social security number listed is common.
  • An autoerotic asphyxiation exclusion is an easy one for us to beat.
  • An omission on the application is a big reason for denying a life insurance claim, but we have legal briefs to this effect.
  • Not providing the required documents to the insurance company after death is a reason.
  • Information which is argued to not be correct is one.
  • When there is a dispute between two or more beneficiaries, an interpleader may occur, and we always get these resolved quickly.
  • A beneficiary not named is a reason for not paying it out.
  • A life insurance policy may be transferred from one company to another by the employer which causes major problems.
Don’t forget to pay your life insurance premiums
How late payments can prevent your loved ones from collecting on your policy
Let’s face it, life insurance is one of those things most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. Often, people obtain a policy after receiving advice from a financial advisor. They typically advise clients that life insurance is a good financial planning tool. This is especially true for the main bread-winner in any household. If that person were to pass away unexpectedly, life insurance can make things a lot easier for surviving loved ones.
Nonetheless, once we obtain the policy, most of us don’t think much about it beyond paying the monthly premiums. Indeed, none of us ever really spends much time thinking about when and how we’re going to pass away. Thus, life insurance premiums are one of those bills that can easily slip one’s mind. Sometimes, premiums can go unpaid for months and the insured doesn’t give it a moment of thought until she receives a notice of non-payment from the life insurance company. At that point, most people quickly make the payments needed to get their policy back to current.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that by skipping those few payments, they may have put their beneficiaries at great risk of a claim denial should they pass away within the next two years. In this article, we’ll explain why that is the case and what you can do if you are facing a claim denial under these circumstances.
Period of contestability
Before we get to a discussion of why it is so important not to miss payments on your insurance premium, it’s probably best to discuss a clause included in most life insurance policies called the “period of contestability.” This is a clause that, generally speaking, is only in force for the first two years of the policy term.
Understood in the most basic terms, the period of contestability gives the insurance company a great deal of leeway in delaying or denying claims during those first couple of years the policy is in effect. It is a sort of built-in protection for the insurance company. This is because in most cases, if a policyholder dies shortly after the policy becomes effective, the insurance company will lose a lot of money in paying out the claim.
If the insured dies during the period of contestability, the life insurance company has several ways to avoid paying out the claim. For one thing, the company gets extra time to investigate whether there was a reason for the insured to have known (but not disclosed) that she was likely to die early within the policy term.
Let’s say, for example, that a 45 year-old woman is applying for life insurance. In her application, she fails to disclose that her mother died from breast cancer at the age of 46. Let’s say the applicant also knew that her mother passed away from a hereditary form of the disease. Nonetheless, this woman did not disclose this information because she believed it would only serve to hike her premium payments.
Next, imagine that this woman dies just 18 months into her policy term and her beneficiary makes a claim for death benefits. Outside of the period of contestability, there’s not much the life insurer could do except pay the claim. Inside the two-year window, however, the insurance company gets to do extra investigative work to see if everything about the application process was legitimate. After scouring the insured’s health records and public records relating to her mother’s death, the insurance company would likely determine that the deceased’s failure to reveal this family history of breast cancer was a “material misrepresentation” in the application. It would then argue that because of this misrepresentation, it is relieved from paying the claim.
Why timely paying premiums matters so much
Let’s take the above example in a slightly different direction. In this scenario, let’s say everything is the same, except that the policyholder dies 30 months after the effective date of the policy. At that point, she is six months past the period of contestability.
From a practical standpoint, this means that the insurance company has lost its broad powers to contest the policy payout. Two years have elapsed and, at least in most states, the life insurer must simply pay the death penalty to the woman’s beneficiaries.
So, what does all of this have to do with premium payments? Actually, everything.
Many life insurance policies contain provisions stating that if a policyholder misses a payment by so many days, the period of contestability starts all over. That period of time varies from policy to policy, but it can be as short as 30 to 60 days.
Think about what that means for the woman in our example. She died 30 months into her policy term. Let’s say that on the 26th month, however, she skipped two payments before catching up and getting her policy back to current. Even though her policy is not in default at the time of death, the insurance company will argue that the period of contestability started over as soon as she became overdue in premium payments. The insurer will then claim it is entitled to extra time to investigate the claim and, in many cases, beneficiaries will be met with an outright denial.
The laws in this area can vary from state to state with respect to what sort of notice the insurance company has to give on the reset of the period of contestability. If you are facing denial of a life insurance claim based on a similar situation, please don’t try to handle it on your own.
Life insurance companies are filled with lawyers whose sole job is to deny your claim. Our lawyers have dedicated their legal careers to fighting against improper denials of life insurance claims. Now is a good time to team up with us and let us fight this battle for you. Call today.