A lapse means a life insurance policy is no longer an active contract. A life insurance policy will lapse when premium payments are missed and cash surrender value is exhausted on a life insurance policy. The term lapse refers to a “lapse in coverage”, meaning the life insurance contract will no longer pay a death benefit or provide any insurance coverage for the insured person. A policy will only lapse after a grace period has passed, and in some cases it is possible to have the policy reinstated.
Grace Period Must Expire Before Lapse
To prevent a life insurance policy from lapsing each and every time a premium payment is slightly late, every state in the country requires that a life insurance policy first go through what is known as a grace period after a payment is missed. This is a period of time (usually 30 days) where despite the missed payment, the insurance policy will still provide coverage and make a full payout if the insured dies.
Only after the grace period has passed without receiving the due premiums can the life insurance company consider the policy to be lapsed. Once a life insurance policy lapses the life insurance company is not under any legal obligation to pay the beneficiaries if an insured person passes away.