5. What is meant by a "contestable period" in relation to life insurance?
A "contestable period" is a contractual provision that is often found in a life insurance policy. The contestable period usually covers a period of one or two years from the effective date the insurance policy, depending on the terms actually written on the policy.
Through this provision, the insurance company has the right to contest (to dispute) the validity of the insurance policy and to refuse to pay the death benefit if the insured person dies within the contestable period. The most common reasons are suicide or misrepresentation of the health of the insured person.
Within the contestable period, the insurance company has the opportunity to investigate whether or not a vital misrepresentation has been made. However, after the expiration of the contestable period, the beneficiary of the insurance policy is protected against the contesting of the insurance company (i.e. the policy becomes "incontestable"). In other words, the insurance company will be obligated to pay the death benefit once the contestable period has expired, except where there is fraud (e.g. submitting fake documents during the insurance application or claim process).
Please note that the "contestable period" provision may not apply to supplementary benefits, such as payment of medical or hospital confinement expenses. In addition, life policies can be without any "contestable period" clause at all.