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15 January, 2016 - 09:34

Under the law in every state, a beneficiary who kills the insured in order to collect the life insurance is barred from receiving it. But the invocation of that rule does not absolve the insurer of liability to pay the policy amount. An alternate beneficiary must be found. Sometimes the policy will name contingent beneficiaries, and many, but not all, states require the insurer to pay the contingent beneficiaries. When there are no contingent beneficiaries or the state law prohibits paying them, the insurer will pay the insured’s estate. Not every killing is murder; the critical question is whether the beneficiary intended his conduct to eliminate the insured in order to collect the insurance.

The willful, unlawful, and felonious killing of the insured by the person named as beneficiary in a life policy results in the forfeiture of all rights of such person therein. It is unnecessary that there should be an express exception in the contract of insurance forbidding a recovery in favor of such a person in such an event. On considerations of public policy, the death of the insured, willfully and intentionally caused by the beneficiary of the policy, is an excepted risk so far as the person thus causing the death is concerned.


Many kinds of insurance are available for individuals and businesses. For individuals, life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and automobile insurance are common, with health insurance considered essential but often expensive. Businesses with sufficient employees will obtain workers’ compensation insurance, property insurance, and liability insurance, and auto insurance for any employees driving company vehicles. Insurance companies will often pay a claim for their insured and take over the insured’s claim against a third party.

Liability insurance is important for individuals, companies, and licensed professionals. A trend toward no-fault in liability insurance is seen in claims for work-related injuries (workers’ compensation) and in automobile insurance. Life insurance is common for most families and for businesses that want to protect against the loss of key employees.


  1. Helen Caldicott raises a family and then begins a career as a caterer. As her business grows, she hires several employees and rents space near downtown that has a retail space, parking, and a garage for the three vehicles that bear her business’s name. What kinds of insurance does Helen need for her business?
  2. One of Helen’s employees, Bob Zeek, is driving to a catered event when another car fails to stop at a red light and severely injures Bob and nearly totals the van Bob was driving. The police issue a ticket for careless and reckless driving to the other driver, who pleads guilty to the offense. The other driver is insured, but Helen’s automobile insurance carrier goes ahead and pays for the damages to the company vehicle. What will her insurance company likely do next?
  3. The health insurance provider for Helen’s employees pays over $345,000 of Bob’s medical and hospitalization bills. What will Helen’s insurance company likely do next?
  4. Many homeowners live on floodplains but have homeowner’s insurance nonetheless. Must insurance companies write such policies? Do homeowners on floodplains pay more in premiums? If insurance companies are convinced that global climate change is happening, with rising sea levels and stronger storms, can they simply avoid writing policies for homes and commercial buildings in coastal areas?