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The 5 Most Terrifying Life Insurance Words

"Pay the premium within the grace period according to your policy and it will be back in good standing," Lundquist says.

If your lapsed policy cannot be reinstated, you will need to apply again and there's no guarantee that you will be approved, says Rongish. "It wouldn't be automatic."

Benjamin Blakeman, a Los Angeles-based attorney who handles life insurance and investment cases for consumers, advises you to do everything you can to avoid lapsing a policy.

"Beg, borrow and steal money to pay a life insurance company," Blakeman says. "You have to prove you're insurable after a policy lapses."

Here's more about Insurance grace periods: When do you get cut off?

3. Lost

You may be at a loss about where to try to find a relative's missing life insurance policy.

"You actually have a lot of options," says Feldman.

He recommends using the clickable map from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators for tracking down the contact information for government unclaimed programs in each state and visiting to conduct a free, multi-state search for unclaimed life insurance policies.

Another option is using MIB Solution's policy locator service, which charges $75 to search its database of life insurance application records in its database.

Here's more on how to find lost life insurance

4.  Suicide

Some families grieving the sudden, unexpected shock of a loved one's suicide may receive a second shock when they attempt to collect death benefits from the deceased's life insurance policy.

"Generally, the rule is if you commit suicide within two years of getting a policy, the company won't pay," Blakeman says.

Most people aren't aware of the two-year provision regarding suicide in life insurance policies, Feldman observes.

"If someone commits suicide within the first two years of the contract, the contract is null and void," Feldman says. "After two years, it pays the full benefits just as death from any other cause."

5. Surrender

If you want to get out of a permanent life policy without just walking away from your investment, you can surrender it for the cash value. But you may get stuck paying a surrender fee. Still, it's better than getting nothing after years of premium payments.

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