Life insurance policies generally cover natural deaths, provided there has been no attempt to defraud the insurance company. An example of an attempt to defraud could be the deliberate withholding of relevant medical information on the application or a false answer on a medical underwriting question. Some policies also have specific exclusions that are related to travel, but for the most part, life insurance policies cover deaths from any natural cause.
A life insurance company that issues a policy may contest the policy for up to two years after the date of issue. If the life insurance company believes that the insured has withheld relevant information, they may be able to deny a death claim or insist that the insured pay a higher premium than previously granted based on their expected mortality. Once the two-year period has elapsed, however, the life insurance company may not contest the policy anymore, even if some information on the application is found to be untrue.
If you purchase a life insurance policy and then die shortly afterward of natural causes, the life insurance company may investigate the claim. If the insured dies within the two-year contestability period of a medical condition that should have been apparent when the policy was issued, there may be a delay in paying the death benefit while the investigation is completed.
Typically, life insurance companies do not exclude natural causes. However, many life insurance companies do exclude deaths from other causes and impose travel exclusions. For example, your policy will generally cover a death from dengue fever. But if your policy excludes deaths as a result of war, imposes a travel exclusion, and you signed an application that stated you have no travel plans, your family may be disappointed when they try to collect on a claim arising from your death due to dengue fever, which you contracted when you departed for the jungles of Burma to fight alongside the Karen militia the week after you bought the policy.
Life insurance companies routinely exclude paying benefits for deaths that occur due to your participation in a felony, and for certain dangerous activities, such as hang gliding and car racing. Some companies also exclude deaths due to a war or acts of terrorism, while others do not. It is important to check the fine print of the policy for any exclusions.