Who Determines if a Questionable Death is Suicide?

Suicide is one of the most common causes of death in the United States. In fact, it ranks under the top five causes of death in the country. It is also one of the main reasons that a death claim would be investigated. If a death looks questionable, more likely than not, the insurance company would want to investigate it to negate all accounts of fraud. For those individuals who purchase a life insurance policy and then commit suicide in the thoughts of giving their loved ones immediate protection, they are mistaken. Life insurance policies won’t pay if the suicide is committed immediately after its purchase.

Suicide clauses exist among most insurance policies. A death resulting from a suicide might not be covered at all, or it will only be covered if the claim is made after a two-year period. This two-year period is also known as a contestability period. The mentality of insurers is that someone will not purchase a policy and plan two years ahead that she or he will commit suicide in order for his or her family to claim the money. Those who are thinking of committing suicide for insurance fraud usually do it on impulse, and waiting for two years to pass would give them no immediate benefit.

Death claims which seem suspicious are usually assigned to private investigators. Instead of trying to discover who did what, an investigator assigned to assessing a death claim will be more concerned with the facts that have to do with whether the insurance company should pay the claim.

How do the investigations take place?
Generally, investigations are mainly routine checks. As mentioned before, investigations are mostly done on death claims of policyholders who die within the range of their contestability period. As time passed, insurance companies have come up with a standard for the kinds and types of death claims investigations. As such, investigations are done in a progressive manner.

The basic job of the investigator is to verify the data that is initially given. When contradictions arise, then further investigation will be needed. The most important area that is investigated is the cause of death. Details that concern the cause of death are very significant. Possible suicide is one of the main things that an investigator focuses on.

Four basic factors exist when investigating a possible suicide:
• Was a suicide note left? If there was, the investigator needs to prove or disprove its authenticity. It’s possible that this was an act of murder, and the note was done by someone other than the policyholder. Forensic science is used in this area–analysis of fingerprints, handwriting, etc.
• Was anyone aware that the individual was suicidal? Did the individual tell anybody he was planning to kill himself? Were there any signs that he was mentally unstable? People close to the claimant are asked. If the individual was mentally unstable, then a psychiatrist who dealt with him or her might be available
• Is there something in the life insurance coverage? Is there a possible loophole somewhere in the coverage that the policyholder would have seen? Does he have multiple policies in order to provide more protection in the event of his death? It’s possible that he’s been planning this for a long period of time, just to be able to provide his family with the most possible amount of protection.
• What are the motives? Does the individual have any motives for committing suicide? When looking for motives, the investigation is targeted among three areas: finances, domestic/home life and health.