Limitation period applicable to LégiFiscal life insurance contracts

​Definition ¶

Prescription is a mode of acquisition or extinction of a right resulting from the inaction of its holder for a certain period of time.

In life insurance, the limitation period exists and is defined by law, which determines several deadlines depending on the actions related to a life insurance contract.

​What is prescription? ¶

Prescription refers to the period beyond which a legal action is no longer admissible. She determines the period after which a right disappears.

When the limitation period has elapsed, and if no one has exercised this right during this period, the right is lost.

In life insurance, the emergence of disputes may give rise to legal action.

​Limitation period ¶

In life insurance, limitation periods are defined by law

​A 2-year deadline ¶

The limitation period for actions related to a life insurance contract is 2 years. The actions must be initiated within this period, from the event which is at the origin of the approach. We are talking about a triggering event.

Actions arising from the contract fall within the scope of the two-year prescription, including when the very existence of the contract is contested.

Once this period has passed, it is no longer possible to initiate an action.

​A period of 10 years or 30 years ¶

Certain situations fall within the scope of a limitation period of 10 or 30 years.

Period of 10 years from the death of the insured:

  • For an action related to a life insurance contract, concerning a beneficiary different from the subscriber
  • For an action related to an insurance contract against personal accidents, when the beneficiary is a beneficiary of the deceased insured.

Period of 30 years from the death of the insured:

  • For an action initiated by the beneficiary.

Insurance Code: articles L114-1 to L114-3

“All actions deriving from an insurance contract are time-barred two years from the event giving rise thereto.

However, this period does not run:

1° In the event of reluctance, omission, false or inaccurate declaration on the risk incurred, only from the day on which the insurer became aware of it;

2° In the event of a claim, only from the day the interested parties became aware of it, if they prove that they were unaware of it until then.

When the action of the insured against the insurer is due to the recourse of a third party, the limitation period only runs from the day on which this third party took legal action against the insured or was compensated by this last (…)

The limitation period is extended to ten years in life insurance contracts when the beneficiary is a person other than the subscriber and, in accident insurance contracts affecting persons, when the beneficiaries are the heirs of the deceased insured.

For life insurance contracts, notwithstanding the provisions of 2°, the actions of the beneficiary are time-barred no later than thirty years from the death of the insured. »

The Insurance Code sets the starting point of the limitation period.

It is the death of the insured, or knowledge of the triggering event that triggers the prescription.

​Interruption of prescription ¶

How to proceed ?

Notifying the insurer of the dispute is done, by sending a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt. It should be noted that the request respects the limitation period.

​Article L114-2 of the Insurance Code ¶

“(…) Interruption of the prescription of the action may, in addition, result from the sending of a registered letter or an electronic registered mail, with acknowledgment of receipt, addressed by the insurer to the insured as regards the action for payment of the premium and by the insured to the insurer as regards the settlement of the indemnity. »

Therefore, the sending of a simple letter, or a registered letter without acknowledgment of receipt has no interrupting effect.

An interruption removes the time already elapsed from the starting point of the limitation period. This means that a new period of 2 years begins.

Beneficiary of life insurance ¶

​Dead less than 10 years ago ¶

During the 10 years following the death of the insured, the contract is still held by the insurance company.

What steps

The presumed beneficiary contacts the association by mail ACT (Association for the Management of Information on Risk in Insurance).

​Dead for more than 10 years ¶

After 10 years, the life insurance contract is closed and the assets are transferred to the Caisse des Depots, who will keep the sums received for 20 years.

​Dead for more than 30 years ¶

After 30 years, unclaimed funds are definitively returned to the State.

It is definitely no longer possible to request a refund..

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