A standard U.S. life insurance policy would cover death from radiation poisoning.

Phil Young, a life insurance policy analyst at Life Quotes Inc., Darien, Ill., an insurance quote service, presents that conclusion in a commentary on the nuclear reactor leaks in Japan.

Authorities say the radiation leaked from the reactors will be far too weak once it reaches the United States to cause acute health problems here. But news of the leaks has caused some Americans to ask about what their policies would cover if high radiation levels did affect the United States.

Most U.S. automobile policies and homeowners policies exclude coverage for nuclear accidents, because American Nuclear Insurers, Glastonbury, Conn., runs a special program that provides a total of about $13 billion in protection against property-casualty damage caused by nuclear accidents.

Typical U.S. life policies contain no exclusions for nuclear accidents, Young says.

“The standard U.S. life insurance policy covers death by any cause at any time in any place, except for suicide within the first two policy years in most states or one year in some states,” Young says. “So, yes, death by direct radiation poisoning or death by an eventual cancer or other radiation complication would be covered by the typical comprehensive life insurance policy.”

- Allison Bell

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