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Is suicide covered by a life insurance policy?

Is suicide covered by a life insurance policy?

This is not an uncommon question, particularly in New Zealand, where unfortunately our suicide rates are higher than any of us would like.

According to a 2016 Ministry of Health report, NZ’s youth suicide rate (for ages 15-24) was the highest amongst 34 OECD countries between 2009 and 2012.

If you, or anyone you know is talking or thinking about suicide, it is important that you reach out for support. Organisations such as have great resources and support networks, as well which specialises in helping youth.

So, to answer the question …. yes, life insurance policies do cover suicide, although it is pretty typical for policies to not provide cover for suicide for at least the first 13 months. The main reason for this is to make sure that people who may be thinking about suicide aren't influenced by thinking that their family will be financially looked after immediately – when really the most important thing to the family is having that person around in the future.

When a person applies for life insurance, it is standard to be asked questions about their health and lifestyle, including any history of mental illness, depression or suicidal thoughts. As with any question that a life insurance company asks you, it is really important that these questions are answered honestly, as if you are not 100% honest with your answers, then this might void your policy. And just because you may have had some challenges in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t get life cover today.

The great thing about our Pinnacle Life online process is that you can confidentially answer the health and lifestyle questions to see if you qualify automatically for cover, before you give us any personal information.

UPDATE: Yesterday, 26 August 2019, the Chief Coroner released updated suicide statistics for New Zealand. Since this blog was written our suicide rate has climbed from 13.67 per 100,000 people in 2017/18 to 13.93, a 1.9 per cent increase. The increase is particularly high among youth, Maori and pacific island people. If you are worried about your own mental health, or someone else’s, the best place for help is your GP. Or if you’d rather talk to someone else, there are a number of alternatives:

• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)


• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633

• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)

• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202

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