Life insurance policy provisions. Most of us tend not to pay sufficient attention to the details of a life insurance policy until someone dies or until we are in dire need of some cash. The thinking goes something like this. My husband is dead, he did mention that he had some life insurance, I wonder how much? I do need some cash, how does the insurance company pay out the policy proceeds? Was I named as beneficiary or were our children named? These are just a few of the questions that may come to mind. Let us find out what your policy does in this type of situation.
The Policy Contract
One of the most important provisions of your life insurance policy is the contract itself. This states that upon the death of the insured a certain sum will be paid to a named beneficiary. In family situations the proceeds are usually paid to the spouse or adult child. In business situations the death benefit will be payable to the business itself, a partner or shareholders. This sum of money can be paid in one lump sum or in income form.
Another important contractual agreement is the incontestability clause which simply states that if, for example, you give the life insurance company any false information they have the right to withdraw the policy or contest it upon death. There is a limited period in which this policy can be contested, usually 2 years.
This incontestability clause also applies to suicide as well. If an applicant buys a policy with the express intent of committing suicide they can forget about it. If suicide is committed within the contestability period the amount paid will be limited to premiums paid plus interest. If suicide occurs after the contestability period, usually 2 years, the life insurance company will pay the full sum.
Another provision in your policy worth your consideration is the misstatement of age clause. If you misstate your age on your application form the amount paid upon death will be limited to the amount of coverage your premium would have bought at the correct age.
Ownership Of The Document
The owner of the life insurance policy is usually the applicant even if the coverage is on another persons life. A parent would own a policy on a child, a spouse may own a policy on his or her partner, a business may own insurance on a partner, shareholder or employee. Whenever the insured is of age, is not a minor, this person must approve of the policy being purchased on his or her life. This insured must complete the medical part of the application and sign it.
Premium Payment And Reinstatement
The owner of the policy is required to pay the premiums at the required time whether it be monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or yearly. Failure to do so will put the policy in a state of lapse after 31 days. If premiums are paid annually, for example, and the insured should die after one month the beneficiary will receive the balance of the years premium together with the face amount of the policy.
If the policy goes into a state of lapse it may be reinstated by paying the missed premiums or by redating the policy. If the owner chooses to redate s/he should be aware that this action may put him or her into a higher premium rate as s/he will be older. The company may also require a medical exam in order to put the life insurance policy back in force.
There are 3 levels of beneficiaries in your life insurance policy. First there is the primary beneficiary. This is the person to whom the proceeds of the policy will be paid. If the primary beneficiary should die before the insured and if the insured has not changed or named someone else as beneficiary before his or her death the benefits will be paid to a named contingent beneficiary.
As a safety net you also can name what is commonly referred to as further payees. In other words, if the primary beneficiary as well as the contingent should die before the insured the proceeds would go to further payees, as per the contract.
These general policy provisions may apply to all life insurance policies. If, however, your policy is a permanent one there are additional provisions that would apply.
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