Are these horror movie deaths covered by life insurance?

Most causes of death are covered by life insurance, but there are some exceptions that could complicate things for these film characters.

Amanda Shih author photo

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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Updated|4 min read

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Horror film history is filled with over-the-top death scenes. While most viewers are invested in seeing the antagonist beat for good, we wanted to know: What would happen if those victims had life insurance? Here’s a closer look at six horror movie character deaths and whether they would be covered by a life insurance policy.

Psycho (1960): Stabbing

Covered by life insurance? Yes

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is stabbed to death by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) in this infamous Alfred Hitchcock film. This is a straightforward case of murder, which is covered by all life insurance policies. The only reason an insurer would not pay out the death benefit is if the beneficiary murdered — or is even suspected of murdering — the policyholder themselves.

Though thankfully rare in real life, in these circumstances the insurance company will either split the benefit among any other beneficiaries or pay out to the policyholder’s estate.

Final Destination (2000): Accidental strangulation

Covered by life insurance? Yes

The first film in the now-prolific “Final Destination” franchise kicks off its string of “accidental” deaths with Tod Waggner’s (Chad Donella) strangulation by clothesline. Though we know Death itself is responsible for Todd’s demise, his cause of death appears to be an accident. That means it’ll be covered by both traditional life insurance and a less comprehensive type of life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D).

AD&D only pays out if you die in an accident (instead of from health issues) or are seriously injured. The benefit is generally lower than that of a typical life policy. 

The Ring (2002): Heart attack

Covered by life insurance? Yes

In this American version of a Japanese classic, you die seven days after watching an eerie VHS tape of a girl ambling toward you from a well. While we know that the characters in the film are being killed by Samara (Daveigh Chase), Katie Embry (Amber Tamblyn) seems to die from a fear-induced heart attack.

Heart attack deaths are covered by life insurance, so Katie’s beneficiaries would have financial protection. The only exception is if she died during her policy’s contestability period, when her insurer could review her application to confirm she was honest when she applied about any health issues that could pose an insurance risk.

If Katie didn’t disclose a pre-existing heart condition, the insurer would reduce the death benefit or not pay it at all. In this case, assuming she's proven healthy prior to her heart attack, the insurer will eventually pay out after a delay.

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Hereditary (2018): Natural causes

Covered by life insurance? Yes

“Hereditary” opens with the death of Ellen Leigh (Kathleen Chalfant), the leader of the cult of Paimon. Since she dies of natural causes, any beneficiaries — like her daughter, Annie (Toni Collette) — would receive a payout. 

However, Ellen had dissociative identity disorder (DID) and dementia, both of which can impact your life insurance. In normal circumstances, Ellen’s likely untreated DID would raise her premiums or make it hard to get a policy at all. If she was able to get a policy, a living benefits rider might help pay for an assisted living or nursing home facility once she developed dementia.

IT Chapter Two (2019): Suicide

Covered by life insurance? Maybe

In the sequel to 2017’s “IT,” the first film’s protagonists, now adults, prepare to face murderous clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again. When Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) gets the call to return to Maine, he dies by suicide, worried that his fear of Pennywise will put his friends at a disadvantage against the clown. If Stanley bought his policy more than two to three years before his passing, it would pay out and provide financial support for his beneficiaries.

Most life insurance policies include a suicide clause, which states that the insurance company will not pay the death benefit if the policyholder dies by suicide during the first few years of coverage. If you die by suicide after the clause period, the insurer pays out as it would with any other cause of death.

47 Meters Down – Uncaged (2019): Attacked by a shark

Covered by life insurance? Maybe

This survival thriller involves many shark-related deaths, which are a straightforward case of accidental death. But, the scuba diving aspect of the film complicates things from an insurance perspective. Life insurers consider hobbies like scuba diving risky, meaning they’ll ask when you’re applying for life insurance whether you dive and may increase your premiums as a result.

Regular divers, like the guides in the movie, need to disclose how often and how deep they dive. As long as they were forthcoming, they would be covered.

When it comes to buying life insurance, “We want the surviving family to be comfortable while taking the necessary time to cope without worrying about financial problems,” says Noah Burchard, former Policygenius inside sales representative. “Especially if it’s a horrible and shocking death like most horror movie deaths.” 

If you have questions or concerns, an independent broker like Policygenius can’t banish any evil clowns or cults from your life, but they can help you pick the best policy for your needs.