What is Covered by Life Insurance?

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
December 14, 2023

Looking for the best rate and coverage for life insurance? Consider Sproutt.

Life insurance can be a valuable product for many individuals and families. No matter what situation or life stage you’re in, you may be able to benefit from a life insurance policy. 

Use our guide to learn more about life insurance and find the right policy today.

Covered Expenses from Life Insurance

The money from a life insurance policy can be used for many different things. Before deciding on the amount of coverage you want your life insurance policy to provide, it’s important to consider what you want the money to be used for. Here are some examples of what the money from your life insurance policy can be used for.

Routine Bills

Think about what goes into running your household on a daily basis. You probably have rent or a mortgage to pay each month. Then there’s electricity, water, internet and phone bills. Maybe you also have monthly subscriptions like a streaming service or meal delivery kits. 

Then there are the other expenses to consider. This includes money for groceries, transportation, household supplies, clothing and so on. On top of all of that, don’t forget about premiums for your other insurance policies, such as health insurance and car insurance.

All of these bills add up and can be a burden on your family members if you pass away. A life insurance policy will allow you to select a beneficiary as the person who will receive the money from your life insurance policy in the event that you pass away. Your beneficiary can then use the money from your life policy to help cover these routine bills and expenses moving forward. 


Another huge concern for many people are the debts they might leave behind. Fortunately, federal student loans are forgiven when the borrower passes away. In the case of Parent PLUS loans, the federal student loan is forgiven when the parent passes away. 

Cosigners are held jointly responsible for the debts and loans that they have signed for. If you pass away before the debt is paid off, the person that signed the loan with you will be held fully responsible for paying the remaining balance. This applies to private student loans, personal loans, car loans and even credit cards.

Buying life insurance policy for yourself allows you to assign the cosigner of your loans as your beneficiary. If necessary, you could even assign multiple beneficiaries to make sure that everyone is covered, including your parents, children and spouse. If you pass away before any of these debts are paid off, the life insurance beneficiary can use the money from your policy to help pay off those outstanding debts.

Expenses for Children or Other Dependents

If you’re a parent, one of the best reasons to purchase a life insurance policy is to help your children financially when you’re no longer around. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, the sole financial provider for your family or somewhere in between, you should consider the costs if you were no longer around. 

Life insurance can help your family stay financially afloat if you passed away and they lost your income. If you passing away would mean that your family would need to hire some sort of child care, it could help cover those costs as well. The money from a life insurance policy could even be used to set up a college or other fund for your children.

Charitable Giving

Did you know that you can even leave a portion or all of the money from your life insurance policy to your favorite charitable cause? In fact, it’s common for people to use their life insurance policy as a way to leave a legacy. For some, leaving a legacy means providing a large sum to a loved one to make a big purchase, such as a home. For others, it can mean supporting a charitable cause.

Causes of Death Covered 

As with any type of insurance product, life insurance policies only cover certain situations. Be sure to get familiar with the causes of death that are covered by your life insurance policy before you purchase it. 

Your life insurance policy will cover most causes of death, including the following:

Accidental Death

Accidental death refers to situations in which someone passes away due to an accident. As far as your life insurance policy is concerned, an accidental death will likely be any death that is due to any reason other than natural causes.

Common accidental deaths include automobile accidents, work-related injuries, drowning and so on. All of these situations are those that most would consider as an accident. Life insurance also considered murder as an accidental death. Even though the act of murder may not be an accident, it is considered an accidental death because it is death from a natural cause.  

Natural Causes

Life insurance policies will also pay out the money from your policy to your beneficiary if you pass away due to natural causes. Natural causes could refer to several different causes of death. 

Some examples of natural causes of death include:

  • Passing away simply due to old age
  • Terminal illnesses, such as cancer
  • Health events such as heart attack or stroke
  • Complications due to a health condition


Life insurance policies may cover suicide as a cause of death, but there are instances where this would not be a covered cause of death. Life insurance policies come with a contestability period. This is a period of time (usually 1 or 2 years) after you purchase the life insurance policy during which your life insurer can investigate and deny claims. If death due to suicide occurs during the contestability period of the life insurance policy, your beneficiary may not receive the money from the policy.

After the contestability period is over, your life insurance policy will include suicide as a covered cause of death. Physician-assisted suicide will also be a covered cause of death after the contestability period if over, but it is not covered during the contestability period.

What is Not Covered

It’s important to understand that there are some instances in which a life insurance company will not pay beneficiaries after the death of the life insurance policyholder. To avoid this happening to your loved ones, be sure you review and adhere to your policy’s rules. These common reasons for denying life insurance claims can be easily avoided if you know what’s needed.

Not Paying the Premium

Life insurance isn’t something you can purchase and then forget about. You’ll have to make your premium payments on time to keep your life insurance policy active. Premium payments are the amount that you agree to pay for your insurance policy, usually broken out into monthly payments. 

After you purchase your policy, make sure you set a reminder or set up automatic billing so you don’t miss a payment. If your monthly premium isn’t paid on time, the policy may become invalid and your beneficiary will not be able to benefit from an invalid life insurance policy.

Making a Misrepresentation on the Application

When you apply for a life insurance policy, you may have to answer questions about your health and lifestyle. You must answer these questions truthfully. If you fail to provide relevant personal information, your life insurance company could deny the life insurance claim after you pass away.

Examples of undisclosed personal information that could cause a problem include major health issues, family history of health issues, dangerous lifestyle activities or foreign travel. 

Life Insurance Exclusions

Your life insurance policy will have a terms and conditions section. Before you sign any contracts, it’s important to thoroughly read and make sure that you understand everything that is written in your policy documents. You’ll want to specifically look for any uncovered events and exclusions that are included in the documents. 

You Forgot to Change your Beneficiary

If you’re married, your spouse is probably a beneficiary of your life insurance policy. But if you get divorced, you could be setting your life insurance policy up for failure if you forget to change the beneficiary. 

In some cases, not changing your beneficiary after a divorce can lead to the denial of a life insurance claim after you pass away. Each state has rules regarding this, so it might be a good idea to consult with an attorney to see what you need to do.

Compare Life Insurance

Finding the best insurance company can be a big help in purchasing the right life insurance policy for you. If you contact an insurance agent, be sure to discuss the types of life insurance and any additional riders that it offers. 

In most cases, a term life insurance policy is a great choice. Here are some life insurance companies you should consider speaking with about purchasing a life insurance policy.

Next Steps

Now that you’re familiar with life insurance coverage and exclusions, it’s time to think about whether it makes sense for you. Most people can benefit from a life insurance policy, no matter what stage of life they’re in. The best thing to do now is to get a free customized quote to see what life insurance policies may benefit your situation. Start with our recommended providers to find your life insurance policy today.

Frequently Asked Questions


What can I use life insurance for?

Life insurance serves multiple purposes, such as providing financial protection for loved ones in case of death, covering expenses like funeral costs and debts, leaving an inheritance and accumulating cash value for retirement or education expenses. Ultimately, life insurance provides peace of mind and financial security for both you and your loved ones.

When does a life insurance policy pay out?

A life insurance policy pays out upon the death of the policyholder, as long as the policy is active and all necessary documentation is provided to the insurance company. The payout, also known as the death benefit, is typically given to the designated beneficiaries listed in the life policy.

What are the reasons life insurance won't pay out?

There are several reasons why a life insurance policy may not pay out, including providing false information, death from excluded causes, death within the contestability period, policy lapse due to non-payment, engaging in high-risk activities, or suicide within a specified period. It is important to understand the policy’s terms and conditions.


Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.

About Ashley Hart

Ashley Hart is a personal finance writer passionate about helping people feel empowered to take control of their finances. She has more than eight years of writing experience, focused on insurance.