When a person carrying a life or accident insurance policy dies as the result of an act committed by him in violation of the law, the beneficiaries may or may not be precluded from recovering upon it. In the absence of a special exclusionary clause, the general view is that the beneficiary may recover. However, if it appears that at the time the insured took out the policy he intended to commit a crime recovery is barred, at least if the death occurred within the contestability period. In order to delimit from the general coverage provisions the risks that would otherwise exist, insurance companies often expressly provide that where the death of the insured is due to an act committed in violation of the law the company shall not be liable. This comment will analyze: (1) the types of exclusionary clauses and the general rules of construction; (2) the type of conduct which will constitute a violation of the law within the meaning of such clauses; (3) the rules of causation which the courts have established and the application of these rules in order to ascertain when a causal relation between the unlawful act and death exists; and (4) the proper scope and desirability of such clauses.
Robert A. Solomon,
INSURANCE - EXCLUSIONARY CLAUSES - DEATH DUE TO VIOLATION OF THE LAW BY THE INSURED,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol38/iss8/8