Double indemnity is a clause or provision in a life insurance or accident policy whereby the company agrees to pay the stated multiple (i.e., double, triple, etc.) of the face amount in the contract in cases of death caused by accidental means. This includes murder by a person other than, and not in collusion with, the beneficiary of the insurance policy, and most accidental deaths. It excludes suicide, and deaths caused by the insured person's own gross negligence, as well as natural causes.
In 2006, 5.01% of all deaths in the United States were declared accidental. For this reason, double-indemnity clauses are usually relatively cheap and often aggressively marketed, especially to people over 45. People with dangerous jobs, such as heavy construction, as well as children, are not generally eligible for multiple-indemnity coverage.
- Erle Stanley Gardner, a practicing lawyer before he became an author, explains the difference between "accidental death" and "death by accidental means" in his novel Double or Quits (1941). In the end, the detective proves that the insured person was murdered, and thus the insurance company has to pay the double amount.
- "Final Deaths 2006" (PDF) (Press release). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 17, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-26.