All About Estates

The Impact of Medical Assistance in Dying on Life Insurance and Some Other Mentionables

A question that I have heard asked a few times recently is: How would Medical Assistance in Dying (“MAID”) affect my life insurance policy?  It’s an interesting question and certainly something that should be considered in the context of estate planning where the proceeds of a life insurance policy play a significant role in the estate plan and the client has a medical condition where MAID may become a possibility.

Despite that many insurers will not pay out insurance proceeds where death is by suicide or where the injury was intentionally self-inflicted if it occurs prior to the 2nd anniversary of the effective date of a policy, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), which is the association that represents 99% of Canada’s life and health insurance businesses, provides that[1]:

  • So long as the guidelines set out in federal legislation for MAID was followed, then MAID will not be considered to be “suicide” and the policy will be paid out.
  • If MAID takes place as set out above, the insurer could still rely on other defences such as misrepresentation made when applying for coverage, fraud, etc.
  • If the insured had received a diagnosis but didn’t disclose it on an application then the insurer may not pay out, however, if the policy has been in effect for 2 years or more, then it will pay out the proceeds, unless the insurer asserts fraud exists.
  • It is recommended that the cause of death be included on the death certificate, as well as the underlying cause of death.

It is important to note however, that a review of the particular policy is necessary to ensure that it doesn’t specifically exclude the particular illness for which the insured may be seeking MAID.

Now for some Mentionables.

The following provides a sample of some interesting data[2] that has been collected in Canada since MAID was legalized in 2016:

  • The number of medically assisted deaths in Canada (excluding Quebec, NWT, Yukon and Nunavut):
    • 510 in 2016 (June to Dec)
    • 875 in 2017 (Jan to June)
    • 1086 in 2018 (July to Dec)
    • 2614 in 2018 (Jan to Oct)
  • The average age of persons receiving MAID is 72
  • The proportion of men versus women receiving MAID on average is 50/50
  • There are more persons receiving MAID in large urban centres versus smaller population centres
  • The most common underlying medical circumstances of persons receiving MAID in 2018 is:
    • Cancer (64%)
    • Neurodegenerative (11%)
    • Circulatory/respiratory system (16%)
    • Other/Unknown (9%)





About Tracy Parkinson
Tracy Parkinson has worked in the legal profession for over 28 years. Tracy has extensive experience in complex, high-value estate planning and estate and trust administration. Tracy is an affiliate member of STEP Canada and has received a Certificate in Estate and Trust Administration (CETA). With this Certificate, Tracy has received professional recognition as a specialist in estate and trust management. Tracy is also an associate member of the Institute of Law Clerks of Ontario and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne S.

    August 14, 2020 - 1:16 pm

    Hi Tracy, I read your article with interest. Thank you for writing about the insurance implications on this. My sister utilized MAID last year – a difficult choice – I am glad for the surviving families that MAID is not considered to be “suicide” and policies are paid out.

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