Life insurance lapses when a (or multiple) premium payments are received by the company on the date it is due. You will generally get either a 30 or 60-day notice if you miss a payment, and when this grace period ends, if you still haven’t paid, the policy lapses.
The outcome of a lapsed policy is not uniform and will depend on the type of policy you had. You may either have a permanent life insurance lapse or a temporary life insurance lapse.
- Permanent life insurance lapse. This policy will have lifelong coverage and will grow in value over time. Usually, for a permanent policy, any missed payments will be automatically covered by a loan from the value of the policy itself. This is called an automatic premium loan. If there is no money left to make the loan and a payment is missed, your policy will lapse.
- Term life insurance lapse. This policy gives a more affordable coverage for a set period of time. This type of policy does not offer automatic premium loans, so missing any payments could result in the lapse of your policy.
Does Life Insurance Pay If The Insured Person Dies During The Grace Period After A Missed Payment?
Even if you have missed a payment, the policy does not lapse right away but goes into a grace period of a month or two. So what happens if the person whose life is being insured dies during this time period? Luckily, most policies will stay active during the grace period. However, you will still have to make up the payment or payments you missed in order to receive your payout. If the grace period ends and you still have an outstanding debt to your insurance company, they may deny your claim.
Given the complications that come with a pandemic, most states require insurance companies to extend their grace period as current health conditions remain the same. While this may extend your timeline, it is still important to make sure everything is paid in full as soon as possible, as it gives the insurance company less opportunity to attempt to keep your money.
What Is My Responsibility As The Policy Owner?
As the policy owner, your main responsibility you have in order to keep your policy from lapsing is to pay your premiums on time. You can set up an automatic payment from your bank account as long as you ensure there is always enough there to cover your costs. Also, be aware that premium costs are not set and may change. It is, therefore, also on you to double-check that you are paying the right amount.
Insurance companies tend to be slightly old-fashioned and communicate with regular mail over email or calling. This means any payment notices, grace period letters, or premium increase letters will be sent to the address of whatever residence the insurance has on file for you. If you move or you would like your correspondence sent elsewhere (such as to a P.O. box), you must inform the insurance company of the change. If you are in a situation where you are unable to receive mail, you will need to designate someone who can receive your notices from your insurance company.
What Is The Insurance Companies Responsibilities?
To go alongside the things a policy owner must do to keep their insurance up comes a list of obligations that the insurance companies must meet. They may differ slightly on a state-to-state basis, but generally, their responsibilities include:
- Sending the policy owner (you) a premium date notice to the right address. They are meant to keep an up-to-date record of all policy owners’ current addresses to ensure they send all mail to the right place. However, many policies are denied by no fault of the policy owner simply because the insurance company sends their notices to an outdated or incorrect address.
- Sending a premium notice to the policy owner in a set time period. If you don’t receive your premium due notice during the timeframe set out by your insurance company, there is a chance your policy may lapse without you even knowing. Especially if premiums are automatically taken from your bank account, it can be easy to miss that you owe the insurance company money still.
- Providing a policy lapse notice that is in accordance with state laws. State laws may vary, but all are designed to protect policyholders from an insurance company wrongfully denying their policies. Lapse notices need to be specific and clear, and you know exactly when the premium is due and when the grace period would begin if payment is missed.
- Sending annual notices to policy owners informing them of their right to pick someone else to receive mail for them. Some people may not be able to receive mail and also not know that they can choose a third party to get it for them. If, for example, you are in the hospital for an extended stay, you can designate a spouse, family member, or friend to receive your correspondence from the life insurance company.
How Can An Insurance Lawyer Help Me?
Life insurance denials are all too common. Often, it is not the fault of the policyholder but the insurance company that causes the policy to lapse. However, if your company failed to meet the obligations required of it, you may still be able to receive your payout, even if it was initially denied.
McKennon law group has just the team to guide you when it comes to your life insurance. Book your free consultation and learn how an experienced insurance lawyer can hold your company accountable.