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Ledger's Life Insurance Co: Suicide = No Cash

9/29/2008 6:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Heath LedgerThe company that wrote Heath Ledger's $10 million life insurance policy is being sued after claiming the actor's death might have been a suicide, even though officials concluded it was accidental. Lawyers for Ledger's daughter say it's a transparent ploy to avoid paying the money.

ReliaStar Life Insurance Company wrote the policy in June 2007 -- six months before Ledger died. The beneficiary of the policy is a trustee who would hold the money for 2-year-old Matilda.

Instead of paying the $10 mil, ReliaStar set out to investigate whether Ledger took his own life, despite the fact that the New York City Medical Examiner ruled the death accidental.

TMZ has obtained a lawsuit, filed by Matilda's trustee, claiming ReliaStar (owned by ING Americas) has acted in bad faith by not promptly paying the $10 million and by wrongfully prying into the life of Heath Ledger after his death.

Sources say lawyers for the insurance company have claimed Ledger's death was "suspicious" -- possibly suicide, which would nullify the policy. The company alleges in its answer to the lawsuit, "ReliaStar is entitled to investigate Plaintiff's claim to determine if the 'Suicide' provision is applicable." That provision states, "If the Insured commits suicide ... we will pay only the amount of premiums paid to us."

ReliaStar's lawyers have informed Matilda's lawyers they intend to take the depositions of Mary-Kate Olsen, as well as the masseuse who was at Ledger's home when he died, Ledger's colleagues on his last film, his agents, doctors, psychologists and others. Lawyers for Matilda believe the insurance company is trying to scare and shame them into submission. They believe ReliaStar is trying to drag the process out, for what could be years, to avoid paying the money.

We're also told ReliaStar believes Ledger may have lied on two questions on his insurance application -- specifically, whether he was taking prescription drugs when he filled out the application and whether he ever used illegal drugs.

In its answer to the lawsuit, ReliaStar claims it can contest the policy if Ledger lied on the application and it was a "material misrepresentation." Sources tell us Ledger had a prescription for Ambien when he filled out the application, but Ambien was not in his system when he died, nor were any illegal drugs.

Lawyers for Matilda's trust claim ReliaStar is flagrantly violating California law, which prohibits insurance companies from re-examining insurance applications after the policyholder dies. In the lawsuit, Matilda's lawyers say they received a letter from ReliaStar, asking them to identify "all physicians who attended to [Ledger] and all hospitals or institutions where [he] was treated since 1996." Matilda's lawyers say the request blatantly violates the law.

An official for ReliaStar told TMZ, "No decision has been made on the claim." But lawyers for Matilda's trust believe ReliaStar should have already paid and, according to the suit, is acting "maliciously, fraudulently and/or oppressively ... depriving plaintiff of the insurance policy benefits."

73 COMMENTS

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61.

AngelofGermany    

My thing is, it shouldnt really matter what happened, the insurance company should take what the investigation said and pay the money to Matilda that she deserves. She might not be hurting for money from the people that donated their checks from one of their movies thhey helped finish after Heath died, but the insurance shouldnt be able to wiggle their way out of this one and try to get something that justifies them not paying. Its none of their business what happened except for whats in the investigation regarding the actual death. Even if he lied on his application, then say something when they turn it in, dont wait until that person dies and then try to cop out of it because he isnt here to tell you what really happened on his applicaiton and noone else probably knows, so that shouldnt give them any grounds to stand on. Also, who cares if Heath was on drugs or not, its none of out business and it shouldnt matter now. Obviously he hadn't been taking drugs for a while, because most drugs take months to get out of your system and he had no record of them in hsi system at death, so what does that have to do with anything? Also, I believe that it was a accident because he wasnt told the medications he couldnt take with his prescirption, which should have been the doctors job. Yes, Heath is maybe partially responsible for not asking, but doctors are paid alot more money than mose people, they need to do their damn jobs and maybe things like this wouldnt happen so much. Thats all I have to say.

2189 days ago
62.

Mr. Tom    

The insurance company had no objection to Keith Ledger's insurance application all the time they were taking his money. How many times have you been sent a check and it says if you accept the money then you accept the agreement? Why are insurance companies so special that they are exempt from this? Do your homework BEFORE you accept the agreement.

Don't take the premium if you aren't going to keep your end of the bargain. Companies that pull this crap should be made to do what the Bible says and pay the policyholder 7 times the benefit.

2189 days ago
63.

Alicia    

For those claiming that Heath lied on the application...why do you assume that? Unless you were there first-hand to witness Heath doing drugs then you don't know if or when he did them. It has been reported that he had been clean for at least a year before his death. Second, for those who say Matilda doesn't "need" the money...sure she may not "need" it, but it is HER money, and she should get what is rightfully hers. Finally, Heath did not overdose. He died as the result of the combination of the meds he was taking. Ok, bye.

2189 days ago
64.

Ashley    

Alicia, we may not have been there, but on January 2006, Heath did drugs and there is video evidence to prove it. In 2007, he applied for life insurance and claimed he never used drugs. He also claimed he was not taking any prescriptions, yet he was. Heath's reps can deny all they want, but for anyone who has seen the video, it is clear he is snorting something powdery. I wish it were so, but I doubt he is snorting sugar. I do not know, though, about his application. The questions may have been different than what the insurance company claims, but I doubt it. Many life insurance companies ask if you have ever used illegal drugs and some even ask when the last time you used was. Perhaps Heath did not lie, but if he did, there is no reason he should get special treatment for violating the law.

2188 days ago
65.

TAZ    

ALTHOUGH I THINK HEATH LEDGER WAS A WONDERFUL ACTOR, IF HE TRUELY DID LIE ON HIS INSURANCE APPLICATION, THE INSURANCE COMPANY SHOULD INVESTIGATE. IN FACT MOST SHOULD DEMAND IT, THINK ABOUT THE LOGISTICS HERE, IF EVERYONE WHO ACCIDENTALLY DIED OF AN OVERDOSE HAD AN INSURANCE POLICY AND LIED ABOUT IT, THE INSURANCE COMPANIES WOULD GO BROKE, AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY PAID INTO THE POLICIES, DIDN'T COMMIT FRAUD TO GET A POLICY AND DIES AND THE COMPANY DOESNT WANT TO PAY, BECAUSE THEY JUST PAYED OUT 20 MIL TO A DRUG USER WHO OVERDOSED. THINK OF THE LOVED ONES OF THOSE WHO OBEYED THE RULES AND PAID THE POLICIES AND THEIR LOVED ONE IS THE SOLE BREAD PROVIDER AND THE FAMILY NEEDED THAT MONEY, BUT COULDNT GET IT? SOME OF YOU HAVE SAID YOU HOPE THE COMPANY GOES BELLY UP, WELL THINK ABOUT THAT PEOPLE, WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE INSURED BY THAT COMPANY COUNTING ON THAT MONEY TO HELP THEIR FAMILIES. HOW DO YOU THINK THEY WOULD FEEL KNOWING PEOPLE WANTED THEM TO GO WITHOUT ALL BECAUSE THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS INVESTIGATING HEATHS APPLICATION. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. OTHERS ARE AFFECTED BY THIS OTHER THEN HEATHS DAUGHTER AND HIS FANS, IN WHICH I INCLUDE MYSELF.

2188 days ago
66.

Ashley    

Well said Taz.

2187 days ago
67.

Ant    

I agree with Taz. I work in insurance as well, but up here in Canada. If he was on that many prescription drugs and didn't disclose it the life insurance company that makes it material misrepresentation. Making the contract null and void.

2187 days ago
68.

Ant    

That includes about his drug use. The odds are that about that the average person has a 2% chance of dying when they are between the ages of 25 to 50. Then it goes up considerably from there. Think about what the odds are that Heath Ledger dies just 6 months after being issued life insurance? And if he dies just 6 months after being issued life insurance 95% of the time it has to do with non disclosure. Relia Star should have done a better job in their underwriting, which suprises me as a large case such as his (anything with a face amount of $2 million is considered a large case)

2187 days ago
69.

Ant    

Odds are for the average healthy male that is.

2187 days ago
70.

Jennie    

As for Heath's supposed video taped drug use, if you watch the video you will see that he only drinks a beer and talks. The reporters that wanted to show it have even verified this fact. Heath does say in the video that he used to smoke pot. He said he smoked five joints a day for 20 years. Obviously he lied in the video. In order for his statement to be true, he would have been smoking five joints a day when he was 6 years old. I find this too hard to believe. His death was an accident. I have watched the video. HEATH WAS NOT THE ONE SNORTING THE POWDER. As for the prescriptions, could it be possible that they were prescribed after he signed the policy?

2183 days ago
71.

blackfighter99    

did anyone stop to think that heath was concidering his daughter when he died?? that maby he didnt want it to look like a suicide so that she could get the money. i persolay think it was a suicide. his daughter had been taken away from him buy his feance and was in europe when he died. i feel bad for heath that no one can see past his fame. i mean come on mony dosent make a person happy. ust beuase your a gate actor and evyone loves you dosent mae your life any better if you have a chemicl imbalance in your brain ( witch is what depresstion is ). i just hope that someday people can look past his acting and see the guy who was hurting inside. even if it wasnt suicide the man was obviouly unhappy with some aspect of his life to have all those pills. on top of that they say it wasn't and obviouse sucide when he had become reclusive was takeing meds to sleep , for depresstion, anxity and pain. if those arnt warning sighns that something more ten a bad day at work is going on ,i donno what is. somtimes thogh it is hard to see thses sorts of things till they are in hindsight. i personlaly knew somone who commited suicide and we didnt supspect a thing till it was done. his ,and heaths, family both stated that thier sons had no reson to commit suicide and that it was entierly unlike them. but the result was obviouse. still i feel for his little girl whomb he loved. he even said that she had changed his views on death " i feel better now about dieing becuse i can live on in her... at the same time thogh you want to be alive to be there for the rest of her life... kind of a inersting set up." i think thse are kind word from a man to his child. about two weeks after he said thos thogh he was dead.
in my sight this was suside. all d liek to say and i hope people lsiten is that just because you should be happy ( beuase you have monye and fame ect. evrythng EVRYONE wants) dosent make it so.
RIP heath im soryy we couldnt help.

2172 days ago
72.

samual thomas    

I think this is fine. If a person commit suicide then company shouldn't be paying be paying the insurance amount to his family.
______________________________________
samual thomas

Life Insurance

1499 days ago
73.

Tillia    

I believe Relia star has every right to investigate.$10,000,000.00 is not chump change.He may not have comitted suicide but it has stated many times, he abused drugs -which is a big "no no".

The media gave 4 different versions of his disposition when he was discovered.The only person who will know for sure is Heath.

1336 days ago
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