What does your term plan not cover, and why?

Term insurance plans are an essential component of financial planning, offering peace of mind by providing financial security to the policyholder’s family in the unfortunate event of their demise. But, like all insurance policies, term insurance has its limits. Understanding what your term plan does not cover is crucial for making informed decisions and ensuring that your financial planning is robust and comprehensive. This blog delves into the specifics of term insurance plans and focuses on their exclusions.

Understanding term insurance

Term insurance, often described as the purest form of life insurance, is designed to offer financial protection to the insured’s beneficiaries over a specified “term” or duration. This type of policy ensures that, should the insured individual pass away within the policy’s active period, a predetermined death benefit is paid out to the nominated beneficiaries.

The essence of “what is term insurance” lies in its straightforward nature, affordability, and the substantial coverage it offers at relatively low premiums. Unlike other life insurance products that combine savings or investment components, term insurance is solely focused on providing a financial safety net. This focus on pure protection makes it a popular choice for individuals seeking a simple, cost-effective way to secure their family’s financial future in their absence.

Common exclusions in term insurance plans

While term insurance plans are straightforward, they come with exclusions—specific situations or causes of death not covered by the policy. Understanding these exclusions is key to avoiding surprises at claim time.

  1. Suicide: In India, if the policyholder commits suicide within 12 months of policy inception or revival, most insurers will not pay the full death benefit. However, to protect the interests of the policyholder’s family, insurers often return 80-100% of the premiums paid, excluding any taxes or additional charges.
  2. Death due to intoxication or substance abuse: Deaths resulting from the abuse of alcohol or drugs are not covered. Insurers consider these high-risk behaviours significantly increasing the chance of an untimely demise.
  3. Pre-existing medical conditions: Deaths due to pre-existing medical conditions that were not disclosed when purchasing the policy are typically excluded. For instance, if a policyholder conceals a heart condition and dies due to related complications, the claim might be rejected.
  4. Participation in hazardous activities: Deaths occurring from participation in hazardous activities like skydiving, bungee jumping, or motor racing are generally not covered. Insurers deem these activities as significantly increasing the risk of death.
  5. Criminal acts: Deaths resulting from the insured’s involvement in criminal activities or engaging in illegal acts are excluded from coverage.
  6. Natural disasters (in some cases): Some policies might exclude death due to natural disasters, though this is less common. It’s crucial to read the fine print or consult with the insurance provider for clarity.
  7. War and civil commotion: Deaths from war, terrorism, or civil commotion are typically excluded. Given the high-risk nature of these events, insurers exclude such scenarios to mitigate their risk exposure.

Why these exclusions?

The rationale behind these exclusions is risk management. Insurance operates on the principle of pooling risk—collecting premiums from many to pay the claims of a few. Exclusions help insurers manage their risk exposure, ensuring the sustainability of the fund from which claims are paid. By excluding high-risk scenarios, insurers can offer more affordable premiums to the wider population.

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario to understand the impact of non-disclosure of medical conditions, a common issue in India.

Mr. Sharma, a 40-year-old non-smoker, buys a term insurance plan with an assured sum of INR 1 crore (INR 10 million) and an annual premium of INR 10,000. He does not disclose his pre-existing diabetic condition. Two years later, Mr. Sharma passed away due to a heart attack, a complication related to diabetes.

Upon reviewing the claim, the insurance company discovers the non-disclosure of the pre-existing condition. Given the policy terms, the claim is rejected, leaving Mr Sharma’s family without the financial safety net he intended to provide.

This example underscores the importance of full disclosure at the policy’s inception. Non-disclosure can lead to claim rejection, defeating the very purpose of purchasing term insurance.


Term insurance plans are a cornerstone of financial planning, offering a safety net to the policyholder’s family. However, understanding the exclusions is paramount to ensuring that this safety net is reliable. Policyholders should meticulously review their policy documents, ask questions, and disclose all relevant information when purchasing a policy to avoid any issues at the time of a claim.

By being informed and cautious, individuals can ensure that their term insurance serves its intended purpose, providing peace of mind and financial security to their loved ones. Always remember, the key to effective financial planning is not just purchasing the right products but understanding them in depth.