When the defense of suicide is raised in opposition to a claim for recovery on a life insurance policy, on a double indemnity provision for accidental death therein, or on an accident policy, courts are troubled by the allocation of the burden of proof. If the claim is made on a standard life insurance policy, suicide must be expressly excluded to be a valid defense. If so excluded, the defendant-insurer bears the burden of proving that the death was suicidal. On the other hand, if the claim for recovery is on an accident policy or on a double indemnity provision for accidental death within a life policy, the accepted view is that the beneficiary bears the burden of bringing himself within the provisions of the insurance contract. These distinctions in alloca- tion of the burden of proof have been widely recognized throughout the United States, but the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently determined that they would not be made in Virginia.
Burden of Proof for Recovery on Accident Policy Where the Defense Is Suicide-Virginia's Answer,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol3/iss2/10