It is not uncommon for both life insurance policies and accident policies to include what is called a “double indemnity clause.” These clauses are very particular. Their validity depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the cause of death and the ability to prove these circumstances. If an insurance company awards double indemnity, it can provide a range of benefits to grieving families. Notice the emphasis on “if,” as receiving double indemnity isn’t always an easy task. That is why it is important that beneficiaries and survivors of the deceased utilize all the help they can get to ensure they receive their due compensation. In this post, the knowledgeable attorneys at Reich & Binstock will explain the double indemnity meaning and how it applies to life insurance policies and lawsuits. For further questions, feel free to contact our Houston insurance and contract claims lawyers personally at 713-622-7271.
What is Double Indemnity?
The double indemnity meaning is a concept that may be unfamiliar to many, but has been in use for decades now. It is most often used in the context of an insurance claim. The meaning of “double indemnity” can vary depending on the type of insurance in discussion.
The Double Indemnity Provision in a Life Insurance Policy
Generally speaking, however, it refers to an agreement commonly found in life insurance policies. This agreement establishes that in the event of an accidental death, the insurance company must pay double the amount stated in the contract.
In this case, if someone accidentally dies before their policy expires, they may receive double the original agreement as compensation for death benefits. The keyword here is accidental. Insurance companies almost always try to make it difficult to prove the death was an accident in order to avoid a larger payout.
What is Double Indemnity Insurance?
Believe it or not, very few deaths are actually accidental. In fact, in the United States, only 5% of deaths are the result of an accident. Because of the low likelihood of an accidental death, insurers rarely have to pay double indemnity. However, in the case that they do, that doesn’t mean they won’t still try to deny your claim.
There are many valid exceptions for denying coverage, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your claim ought to be outright denied. Insurance companies will go to extreme lengths to prove that the death in question wasn’t actually accidental. It is similar to how insurers will attempt to deny a car accident claim by assigning fault.
Double indemnity policies can often be a very integral part of a wrongful death lawsuit. It can increase the amount of money awarded to beneficiaries significantly. However, this alone may cause issues because it can affect the way the insurance company provides damages to survivors. So while there may be problems that arise in proving the accidental nature of the death, there may also be problems when it comes to the distribution of the money.
What is a Double Indemnity Clause?
When inquiring about the double indemnity meaning, one might hear it referred to as a “clause.”
A double indemnity clause is the actual provision within a life insurance policy. If a person’s insurance policy includes a double indemnity clause, their insurer must pay double, sometimes even triple, the amount provided in the policy upon their accidental death.
A beneficiary of a double indemnity policy has the right to bring a lawsuit against the insurance company for several reasons. This may be the case if the provider breaches the terms of the insurance contract (see “Breach of Contract – Insurance Reimbursements”) or otherwise fails to pay out the required amount to beneficiaries and survivors. It may also be necessary if the provider attempts to change the terms of the contract without prior notice or consent.
On the other hand, wrongful death claims may require legal assistance against other beneficiaries who contest the inheritance rights, as well. This is typically the case when the insured died suddenly and unexpectedly without leaving a valid will and testament behind. In either case, it is extremely beneficial that you have an insurance and contract claims lawyer on your side to make sure you and your loved one’s receive what is rightfully yours.
What Does the Double Indemnity Provision in a Life Insurance Policy Cover?
Because insurers will do anything they can to avoid a hefty payout, they will likely try to challenge the aspect of an “accidental” death. For example, they may claim the death seemed to be a result of suicide. If you know that this is simply not the case, you are able to contest that (see “What To Do If You Think Your Insurer Acted in Bad Faith”). Even if the death wasn’t suicide, however, it must at least have been the result of some unforeseeable circumstance.
What Does Double Indemnity Cover?
First we’ll explain what double indemnity does cover, and then we’ll touch on what it doesn’t.
Deaths that qualify as accidental under a double indemnity clause include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following:
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Defective Products or Machinery
What Doesn’t Double Indemnity Cover?
Deaths that do NOT qualify as accidental and do not allow for double indemnity insurance include (but aren’t necessarily limited to) the following:
- Death by natural causes (i.e., heart attack, cancer)
- Death caused by the negligence of the insured
- Murder conspired by a beneficiary to the insured
- Death occurring as a result of the insured being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
In the case that the cause of death is unknown, insurers are not required to pay. That is until there is a preponderance of evidence that shows the insured died of accidental causes.
Why Do You Need an Insurance Attorney for Double Indemnity?
It’s crucial that those seeking double indemnity for their loved one’s death have someone familiar with the legalities of it. Your lawyer should possess a broad understanding of the double indemnity meaning. They should also be prepared to fight back against insurance providers who try to deny accidental death claims. Having a skilled legal team on your side can significantly improve your chance of receiving your double indemnity compensation.
If you lost a loved one due to an accidental death, you need experienced Houston double indemnity lawyers. At Reich & Binstock, we know the ins and outs of double indemnity clauses and what it takes to pursue them. If you need representation, advice, or simply want to know whether you have a case, contact Reich & Binstock today. You can give us a call at 713-622-7271 or visit our website to leave an online message.