SEOUL, March 2 (Korea Bizwire) – A Korean government agency has ruled that suicide committed after long term depression should be considered as ‘suicide caused by disaster’, and accidental death benefits should be paid by insurance companies.
The Consumers Dispute Settlement Commission (CDSC) in the Korea Consumer Agency ruled that accidental death benefits should be paid in the case of Jung (23, female), who committed suicide after being treated for depression over a period of 16 months.
According to the Korea Consumer Agency, Jung’s insurance policy had a special clause under which an additional 35 million won would be paid out if the client died in a disaster. In February 2007, Jung hung herself after having been treated for depression for a year and four months.
Her family asked the insurance company to pay the additional benefits, but the company declined the request saying that Jung’s depression was ‘considerably light’.
However, the CDSC decided that the insurance company was required to pay the additional 35 million won, as Jung was considered to have been in a ‘disaster’ since she was unable to make rational decisions due to her mental condition.
According to the CDSC, the lack of an objective standard on ‘suicide due to mental disorders’ in insurance policies leads to frequent conflicts between insurance companies and clients.
Data collected from 2010 to 2015 shows that the 79.1 percent of clients demanded that insurance companies pay out accidental death benefits, but insurers agreed to pay the benefits in only 18.2 percent of the cases. Another 180 cases in which the insurance company paid a lesser amount of money than agreed were also reported.
The CDSC pointed out that insurance companies should develop policies that are more clearly defined. Officials noted that unclear terms are causing conflict between insurance companies and clients, and added that the terms related to the payment of benefits and the criteria under which payment will be made should be clear in order to prevent further conflict.
South Korea has consistently had one of the highest suicide rates in the world. An average of 29.1 people per 100,000 took their own lives in 2012, far surpassing the OECD average of 12, according to OECD data from 2015.
Suicide has emerged as a major concern in the nation as it was cited as the leading cause of death among teens and young people in 2013, sparking calls to better assist those afflicted with high level of stress.
By M.H.Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)