A life insurance “contestability clause” is standard in policies and states that an insurer has the right to contest and possibly deny a claim if it believes someone misrepresented anything on an application, generally for two years after the policy purchase.
It might be called an “incontestability” clause in a policy.
State law sometimes dictates life insurance contestability periods. For example, California law says that all individual life insurance policies must contain a clause stating they are incontestable by the life insurer after a period of no more than two years.
It’s important to be completely honest when you apply for life insurance. False information can void a policy during the contestability period, leaving your beneficiaries without a payout.
For example, if someone states they don’t use illicit drugs on a life insurance application but they later die of a drug overdose, the insurer would likely investigate.
Here’s an example of how a contestability clause is typically worded, from a Pacific Life insurance policy:
Incontestability – We will not contest this Policy unless there was a material misrepresentation in the Application. If we determine that the Application contains a material misrepresentation, we will rescind the policy and return to you the premiums paid less any Policy loans and any Withdrawals taken. No Death Benefit will be paid. Unless you fail to pay required premiums, this Policy cannot be contested, except as provided below, after it has been In Force for two years during the Insured’s lifetime, beginning with the earlier of the Date Insurance Begins or the Date of Issue.
If this Policy lapses and is later reinstated, we will not contest the reinstated Policy unless there was a material misrepresentation in the Application required for reinstatement. If we determine that such Application contains a material misrepresentation, we will rescind the reinstated Policy as of the reinstatement date and return to you the premiums paid after the reinstatement date less any Policy loans and any Withdrawals taken after the reinstatement date. No Death Benefit will be paid. We will not contest the reinstated Policy after it has been In Force for two years following such reinstatement during the Insured’s lifetime.
No lie for the sake of getting a better price on life insurance is worth it, considering the policy could end up void. It’s better to be upfront and pay the right price, whether it’s due to smoking, depression or another issue.