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Does MAID Affect Life Insurance?

In 2016, the Government of Canada passed legislation that legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) for competent adults. This article is intended to help you understand how choosing MAID can affect your existing life insurance policy.

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Warning: This article contains sensitive content about death and medical assistance in dying in Canada.

In 2016, the Government of Canada passed legislation that legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) for competent adults. This article is intended to help you understand how choosing MAID can affect your existing life insurance policy. You’ll learn how the government and the life insurance industry are working to protect your rights and remove any doubt about payment when you choose to have a medically assisted death.

In addition to the information below, you’ll find lots of helpful information on the Government of Canada website.

What is medically assisted death in Canada?

Medical assistance in dying means that a doctor or nurse practitioner can provide medications that cause a person’s death at their request, at a time and place of their choosing. Eligibility is carefully assessed, and for those who choose this path, the steps are clear and relatively easy to understand.

What are the eligibility requirements for MAID?

There are very specific requirements that must be met before a person can qualify for MAID. Provinces and territories may have different processes for requesting MAID, so it’s a good idea to do your research where you qualify for government health care. In general, you must:

  • Be eligible for government-funded health services in Canada
  • Be at least 18 years of age and capable of making your own healthcare decisions
  • Have a grievous and irremediable medical condition (more information below)
  • Make a voluntary request for MAID, free of outside pressure or influence
  • Provide informed consent to receive MAID

What is a grievous and irremediable medical condition?

According to the information on the Government of Canada website, to have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have a serious illness, disease, or disability
  • Be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed
  • Experience unbearable physical or mental suffering from your illness, disease, disability or state of decline that cannot be relieved under conditions that you consider acceptable

You do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.

Does MAID affect life insurance coverage?

Canada’s rules around life insurance and pension benefits are quite clear. MAID does not affect your right to collect what’s owed to you and your family. The only exception could be when insurance was obtained under false pretenses. However, this has always been the case and is not unique to MAID. If you have any doubts about your coverage, speak to an advisor to get clarification.

If you make a claim after losing a loved one, the life insurer will ask for the cause of death, as well as the underlying condition. If MAID is listed as the cause of death, the insurer may ask for additional documentation in support of MAID, along with the regular claim requirements.

MAID, life insurance & suicide

Life insurance policies typically come with a suicide provision that limits the payment of the death benefit (i.e., a payment made to designated family members or other loved ones after you die) in cases where someone dies by suicide within the first two years of purchasing coverage. Because MAID is not suicide, this sort of provision does not exist with claims where MAID was the cause of death.

That’s because back in November 2016, the Canada Life & Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) made it clear that life insurance providers would treat medically assisted deaths the same as other deaths. But the insurer can still challenge a claim if they find evidence of misrepresentation when the individual applied for coverage, or if they died from a condition that was specifically excluded when the policy was issued – the same applies to any life insurance claim.

This is how CHLIA put it:

  1. If MAID takes place and it is in accordance with the rules and processes set out by the government(s), then MAID will not be considered to be “suicide” for the purposes of life insurance.
  2. Where the MAID process takes place in accordance with paragraph 1, an insurer would not be prevented from relying upon any other defences (not related to accessing MAID) that may otherwise be applicable. For example:
    1. any misrepresentation that may have been made in applying for coverage, or
    2. any medical conditions specifically excluded at the time the policy was issued.
  3. Where the MAID process takes place, it will still generally be necessary to know the underlying illness. For this reason, we recommend that any death certificate issued following MAID should also indicate the underlying cause of death¹.

MAID is not suicide

A suicide happens when a person takes their own life at a time of crisis. Suicides almost always happen alone, and leave family members shocked and devastated. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call or text 9-8-8. Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People who choose MAID have an opportunity to plan their final days, spend time with family and friends, organize their financial affairs, and surround themselves with loved ones when the time comes.

You’ve decided you want MAID. Now what?

If you are the owner of a Serenia Life policy, you can rest assured that your beneficiaries (i.e., the persons you choose to receive your life insurance payment in the event of your death) can rely on the timely and complete assessment of a life insurance claim in the event of death by MAID. To prevent any confusion over the outcome of a policy claim, here are three steps anyone contemplating the option of assisted death should take.

1. Review your policy

Whether you’ve had life insurance for a long time or you’re shopping for your first policy, be sure to speak with your advisor and review the fine print carefully to see whether it mentions MAID.

2. Seek professional guidance

If you have a life insurance policy that does not mention MAID and you’re considering it, you might want to reach out to your advisor to ask questions and ensure you are on the same page about any rules or requirements.

3. Understand your rights

In the unlikely event that a life insurance claim is ever rejected, you have the right to appeal the decision. Each provider will have their process. If you don’t get the results you want, contact the OmbudService for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI), an independent service that offers free, impartial dispute resolution.

Where to go next

If you’re researching the financial implications of MAID for yourself or a loved one, you likely have many questions,

Serenia Life understands that it’s never easy to confront death and carry on after a loss. That’s why we provide one-to-one bereavement counselling at no cost to our members, and financial guidance through our team of knowledgeable advisors.

We have also worked with a mental health professional to publish a series of articles devoted to helping you cope with loss. Browse articles

It’s your choice

Canadians have rights and legal protections when it comes to MAID. Legislation across the country has been moving in favour of improved rights for those who choose this approach, and the life insurance industry supports the rights of individuals.

You shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not a provider will pay a life insurance claim if you choose MAID. If you have any questions about life insurance and MAID, talk to a Serenia Life advisor today.

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Disclaimers

¹CLHIA Position on Medical Assistance in Dying. Release Date: 11/01/2016. Staff Reference: Giulia Falbo Ahmadi. November 2016. Viewed April, 2024. Source.