Two people get married. One takes out large life insurance policy on the other. Then the person who has the policy dies in an “accident” while together. The survivor collects large death benefit and lives the high life.
This seems to be the deluded dream of many a deranged spouse, who seem to think they can get away with it and no one will be the wiser. Sometimes they do, and we never hear about it. But lots of times we do hear about it, and instead of living large with the help of a seven-figure death benefit payout, they live small in an 8-by-10 cell for the rest of their lives.
Recently, a man in Highlands Ranch, Colo., was arrested and charged with murdering his second wife by pushing her off a cliff while they were hiking in the mountains more than a year ago. His story is that she slipped and fell to her death in a tragic accident.
But her out-of-state family was suspicious, and life insurance companies are very cautious about cutting seven-figure checks to a beneficiary who may have had something to do with the demise of the insured. More suspicion arose when it was discovered that the man’s first wife also died in a tragic “accident” years before when their car fell off a jack and crushed her while they were changing a tire along a rural road. The man, who apparently has not had held a job for many years but always had access to money, reportedly collected as the beneficiary of his first wife’s life insurance. His first wife’s death is now under investigation as well.
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Cases like this puts a spotlight on the role that the insurance agent who sold them the life insurance policy should play in the investigation.
Let’s consider a hypothetical case. An agent sells life insurance policies to a recently married couple – they each take out policies with each other as the beneficiary. As they are signing the paperwork, the husband and wife seem to joke around about killing each other off so they can collect on the life insurance, and it becomes apparent that the wife is adamant that her husband obtain significant coverage.
Just over two years later, the agent learns that the husband has died in a suspicious accident while with his wife, who was unharmed.
What is the agent’s most ethical course of action?
• Stay out of it completely unless contacted?
• Help the widow make a claim for the death benefit?