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How to file a life insurance claim

Jul 2, 2021 4 Minute Read

The days after a loved one’s death can be overwhelming, both emotionally and logistically. On top of dealing with your and your family’s grief, there are countless details to manage, like planning the funeral, securing their home, and locating their will.

It can also be a financially stressful time, especially if your loved one was bringing in income to support the family. That’s where life insurance can help. Life insurance is meant to provide support quickly in the period after a death. It typically offers a much faster payout than waiting on a will, which often takes months to settle.

So how long do you have to file a life insurance claim? If your loved one had a life insurance policy, make sure to start the claims process as soon as you can after the death. Your loved one wanted you to have it, and it can make a big difference financially for your family. While many insurers will check records regularly and try to contact beneficiaries if they learn an insured person has died, there’s also a chance that death benefits will go unclaimed if they can’t track you down.

If you’re a beneficiary, know that the life insurance company wants to make sure your claim is handled sensitively and efficiently. Filing a claim is simple once you know how to do it. Here’s what to gather and how to file a claim for life insurance.

How do you file a life insurance claim?

Wondering how to file a claim with your life insurance company? You can make a claim as soon as your loved one has died. Here’s what to do:

  • Contact the life insurance company. As soon as you can, contact the life insurance company to get the process started. If you’re not sure which company issued the life insurance policy, try checking your loved one’s files for a copy of the paperwork. You can also check their bank statements for any payments made to an insurer.
  • Obtain the death certificate and other required documents. To file a claim, you’ll need a copy of your loved one’s death certificate. The funeral home can help you get copies, or you can also check with your state’s vital statistics office. It’s good to get a few, since you’ll likely need them to wind down other accounts, too. You might also need other documentation depending on the insurance company, such as a marriage certificate if you are filing for a spouse. Check with the insurer on the specifics of what you’ll need. Some insurance companies also suggest submitting a newspaper clipping of the death for additional proof to help speed up the process.
  • Complete the claims paperwork. Every company has their own paperwork and process to complete to make a life insurance claim. The life insurance company will provide the required form to you, either online or through the customer/claims service team. Submit it along with the death certificate and any other requested paperwork. In most cases, it’s helpful to have the policyholder’s full name, date of birth, date and cause of death, state of residence, and policy number ready to share with the insurance company. Don’t have all those details? Not to worry – the life insurance company will guide you through the process.
  • Specify the payout option. Most companies pay out claims as one lump sum. Depending on the insurance company, you may be able to request the payout in another format, such as annual installments. Keep in mind that there may be tax implications to doing this. Once the insurance company receives a claim, you would typically have the money within three to five business days after completing the forms and paperwork, assuming the policy is beyond the contestability period.

Can a life insurance claim be denied?

If you’re concerned about being turned down when making a claim, rest easy: If you are the beneficiary of a policy, you have a right to claim the benefit. In many cases, your loved one has spent years paying premiums to make sure that benefit would be there when you needed it.

If your loved one died during the policy’s contestability period, which typically lasts up to two years, the company might have more follow-up questions to make sure your loved one was following the rules of the policy. If your claim is denied for some reason, you have options. Learn more about what to do when a life insurance claim is denied here.

Still have questions about how to claim a life insurance death benefit?

Our team at eFinancial is here to answer questions and help people find the financial protection they need. Call us at 1-800-482-6616 to speak to one of our agents today.