In Illinois, accidental death insurance valid despite preexisting medical condition

Illinois law looks for the immediate cause of fatal occurrences when determining if the insurer is liable. Insurance companies have argued that accidental death contributed to by preexisting disease or infirmity is not entitled to coverage. In a recent case, a woman was killed in an automobile accident partially caused by a previously diagnosed seizure disorder. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennedy ruled that the insurer was liable because the immediate cause of the woman’s death was the car accident, not the seizure. Another example involves an alcoholic who died from alcohol poisoning who was deemed covered because the immediate cause of his death was the amount of alcohol in his blood; his alcoholism was only an underlying condition that may have contributed to his death. Insurance companies have denied their liability in numerous circumstances but the consensus is that searching beyond the immediate cause of death to find secondary contributing causes is unnecessary.

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