A USA court upheld a suicide exclusion in a policy and rejected arguments that it should not apply because the insured had mental health issues and showed post-mortem degenerative brain disease. The evidence revealed that he had planned his suicide and it was therefore a decision and not an insane impulse. The court said a “planned action is the antithesis of an impulsive one”. The allegation that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to commit suicide could not be supported.

In South Africa the debate has gone on for years whether suicide under an insane impulse falls within the exclusion. The answer will depend on the wording and the facts. Most policies now cover suicide usually after a waiting period.

[Collins v UNUM Life Insurance Co. of America, case number 2:15-cv-00188, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia]