How to file a life insurance claim [2023]

quick Facts

  • You must provide a copy of the death certificate of the insured to file a life insurance claim
  • Most companies pay life insurance claims within a week or two of filing
  • Your life insurance claim may be denied if you are not a designated beneficiary or the insured dies during the competition period.

If you’re upset about the life insurance claim process, don’t worry. This guide covers everything you need to know How does life insurance work and what can you do to collect life insurance as a beneficiary.

You need a copy of the death certificate to collect any life insurance benefits. You cannot file a life insurance claim without it. Companies require death certificates as proof of death to prevent fraud.

Keep reading to learn how to file a life insurance claim and the other documents you need to start the process. You can choose the fastest method to receive life insurance claims payments, but your claim will be denied if you are not a designated beneficiary.

How to file a life insurance claim

One of the biggest advantages of buying life insurance is financial security. As long as the insured makes life insurance payments on a regular basis, beneficiaries can use the money from the death benefit to cover funeral costs, debts, lost wages, and more after the insured has passed.

Life insurance beneficiaries are specified in the policy, and you can collect a death benefit from a policy only if you are listed as a beneficiary. Primary beneficiaries are the first to receive a death benefit, while secondary beneficiaries will receive the amount if the primary listed is already deceased. Learn how to choose a life insurance beneficiary.

How does a life insurance beneficiary file a claim? Follow the steps below to learn how to file a life insurance claim.

Collect important documents

It is important to know that you cannot get life insurance without a death certificate. Insurance companies will check public death records to verify the death of the insured, but you will not receive any death benefits without providing proof of death.

You can request a death certificate from the funeral home or from the coroner. If you don’t live nearby, request a copy from your city’s vital records office either in person or online.

Other important documents required for life insurance claims are:

  • Life insurance policy: It lists the policy number, the name of the insured, his beneficiaries, and the death compensation amount.
  • Benefit application form: Beneficiaries fill in this to include their name, relationship to the insured, and preferred method of payment.

Benefit application forms are provided by the insurance company and can usually be completed online.

If you can’t find the papers or policy number for life insurance, the company that issued the policy should be able to look up the account based on the information on the death certificate and your personal information, as long as you are a named beneficiary on the policy.

Find a life insurance company

Since insurance companies do not automatically pay a death benefit, it is up to beneficiaries to contact a life insurance agent.

If you can’t find a life insurance policy, try the following places:

  • Bank accounts: Find monthly or yearly payments to a life insurance company.
  • Former employee: If they have life insurance provided by their employerYou can call the deceased’s employer and inquire about the name of the insurance company.
  • Ministry of State for Insurance: Your local insurance department will have a database that they can use to find the information you need.

Check personal records for any information related to insurance coverage, including safe deposit boxes and investment portfolios.

Once you know the name of the life insurance company, contact an agent to file the necessary paperwork.

File a life insurance claim

Once you speak with an agent, you will be asked to fill out a benefit request form to submit your claim. You can often do this online and submit it directly to the company for review.

Prepare the following to fill in the life insurance beneficiary form:

  • The name of the insured
  • Place and date of death
  • cause of death
  • Your name and relationship to the insured

Don’t forget that you need a death certificate to fill out these paperwork and file a life insurance claim.

Choose the life insurance payout

There are four different ways you can collect a life insurance death benefit:

  • lump sum: This is the shape of the letter pHelp all at once.
  • Specific income: This is the shape of the letter pAssistance according to a set schedule for a certain period of time.
  • life income: This is the shape of the letter pProvide assistance on a fixed schedule for the rest of your life, but the benefit amount depends on your age and gender.
  • Interest income: This is the shape of the letter pThe assistance is treated as interest on the policy, with the death benefit left intact for the secondary beneficiary after your death.

The best life insurance companies He will pay the death benefit within a week or two. You are free to choose the type of payment method you prefer, although the amount of the death benefit may vary based on the type of life insurance policy.

For example, investments in permanent life insurance may not perform as expected, leaving behind less cash value than expected. Alternatively, a loved one with a variable insurance policy may have exhausted some death benefits to cover the monthly payments later in life.

Understand the different types of life insurance It will give you an idea of ​​the type of death benefit to expect when filing a life insurance claim.

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How long do I have to file a life insurance claim?

There is no deadline for filing a life insurance claim. Some families wait until after the funeral, while other beneficiaries may want to apply immediately to help cover the bills and burial costs.

We recommend that you file a life insurance claim as soon as you have a copy of the death certificate. Insurance companies are under no obligation to alert you of a policy. As a result, many death benefits are not claimed when loved ones fail to tell family members and close friends that they have the policy or list them as beneficiaries.

In 2011, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) adopted the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act to help beneficiaries learn about unclaimed benefits.

The law requires companies to check policyholders against Social Security Administration (SSA) master death file. Once policyholders turn 120 and their death is confirmed by the SSA, companies will begin searching for beneficiaries.

However, this law is only being enacted in 33 states. Depending on where you live, the insurance company may not be obligated to pay the death benefit until someone has started claiming. Therefore, the sooner you file your life insurance claim, the faster you will get your benefits.

Why is my life insurance claim denied?

Life insurance companies reject 1 in 10 life insurance claims each year. Some of the most common reasons for a life insurance claim to be denied include:

  • You are not a listed beneficiary. Policyholders can designate anyone, including charities, as a beneficiary and may change beneficiaries without telling family or friends.
  • The insured has stopped making payments. The insurance company will cancel coverage if the policyholder defaults on monthly life insurance payments.
  • The insured died during the appeal period. Most life insurance companies require insurance policies to be active for at least two years before any amount of death benefit is paid out.
  • The insurance company lists the exclusions. Some insurance companies list specific causes of death, such as suicide. However, many of the exceptions are void after the two-year competition period.
  • The insured died during an illegal activity. Death while committing a crime, including drunk driving, may result in a life insurance claim being denied.

Similarly, life insurance claims may be denied if the insured pursues risky hobbies or professions without telling the life insurance company. Companies will also reject claims about whether policyholders smoke without indicating this in their applications, even if their deaths are unrelated to their smoking habits.

What do you do when a life insurance company denies a claim?

Fortunately, denying life insurance claims is not a dead end. If you do not agree with a life insurance company, contact the following agencies:

  • Life insurance company: Contact the insurance agent you were working with and ask for a denial in writing. You can contest any discrepancies and obtain damages.
  • Ministry of State for Insurance: If the insurance company refuses to have a valid policy, contact the local insurance authorities and file a complaint.
  • Insurance attorney: In rare cases, you may need to hire an attorney to work with a particularly stubborn insurance company.

As long as the insured is honest with the life insurance claim and maintains regular policy payments, you should not have any problems receiving life insurance payments.

What you need to know about filing a life insurance claim

Only the beneficiaries included in the life insurance policy can file a claim. If you are certain that you are a designated beneficiary, you can initiate claims proceedings by contacting the life insurance company to report the death.

You need a copy of the death certificate to file a life insurance claim. You will also need the policy form and application for benefits, but these documents will usually be provided to you by the life insurance company.

Be aware that the life insurance company will deny your claim if you are not a listed beneficiary. Your claim will also be denied if the insured fails to make life insurance payments or dies while committing a crime.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I claim life insurance after death?

You must contact the company directly to file a life insurance claim. Many recipients are required to provide a death certificate and complete an online form to begin the process.

How quickly do companies pay life insurance death claims?

Most recipients wait a week to receive a death benefit. Some companies promise to pay within 24 hours, while others may take up to 10-14 days. Talk to your insurance company to find out how quickly you can receive benefits.

How long do I have to file a life insurance claim after death?

There is no time limit for filing life insurance claims, but the earlier you start the process, the better. Don’t wait for the life insurance company to contact you.

Do I get cash value from life insurance when I file a claim?

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Editorial Tips: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective third party source for all things life insurance. We update our website regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Rachel Brennan has been in the insurance industry since 2006 when she started working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she held her property and casualty license in all 50 states. Several years later, she expanded her expertise in the insurance field, earning a license in health insurance and AD&D insurance as well. I worked for a small health in…

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Rachel Brennan
Licensed insurance agent
Rachel Brennan

Benjamin Carr has worked as a licensed insurance agent at State Farm and Tennant Special Risk. He sold various lines of coverage and advised his clients about their life, health, and property/accident insurance needs. Assessing risk and helping people find the best coverage for their needs is his passion. He appreciates that insurance is designed to protect people, especially in times of…

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Benjamin Carr

Former state farm insurance agent

Benjamin Carr

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