How to File a Life Insurance Claim

How to File a Life Insurance Claim

In 2023 the total amount paid out for life insurance benefits and claims reached $831.9 billion including death benefits, annuity benefits, disability benefits, and other payouts. This figure reflects an increase, from the $812.5 billion recorded in 2022.

When someone passes away their loved ones, they need to request payment, from the insurance company through a process. Filing how to file a Life Insurance Claim can add to the stress. We will ensure this guide will offer assistance in handling the claim procedures during this period.

Typically insurance companies provide forms that can be filled out online or downloaded to kickstart the claims process. These documents are necessary: Certified death certificate, Policy document, Proof of identity, Claim form, Proof of beneficiary status, Tax returns, Credit card statements, Medical records, Police reports, and other documentation.

Find the Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance policies offer beneficiaries a financial payout (usually equal to the policyholder’s coverage amount) upon their death, traditionally divided among beneficiaries who may use these funds for funeral costs, debt payments, mortgage payments, child education expenses, or any other needs that may arise. Insurers must be informed immediately upon death to initiate the payout process otherwise the death benefit will go unclaimed and never claimed.

Under most circumstances, it should be straightforward to locate the life insurance policy of a deceased loved one. Examining his or her records (bank accounts and canceled checks) might yield evidence of coverage. Also, consider scanning tax returns and credit card statements for insurer premium notices.

Finding missing or unclaimed life insurance policies online is possible using search tools, including the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s free policy locator. This tool requires only basic pieces of information like full name (and maiden name if applicable), Social Security number, and state where the policy was purchased from its users to use it properly.

Obtain Death Certificates

As part of your life insurance contract, it will also be important to obtain certified copies of the death certificate from each funeral director involved. Multiple copies should be kept as you will need one for every life insurance company as well as for legal tasks like closing accounts or transferring vehicle titles.

If your loved one died in New York City, obtaining their death certificate through the NYC Department of Health can take four weeks and will include both an official death certificate and a confidential medical report detailing the cause of death.

If your loved one dies abroad, the US Embassy or consulate can assist in getting a death certificate for you. All that is necessary to obtain one is showing a valid passport, proof of citizenship, identity proof, and payment of a fee with a self-addressed stamped envelope enclosed. With these documents in hand, life insurance claims can then be submitted directly.

How to File a Life Insurance Claim. Obtain Death certificate is your first priority

Contact the Insurance Company

Life insurance companies tend to pay claims promptly since any delay could incur interest charges and incur penalties for paying out late.

Agents selling policies should assist their policyholders with filling out forms and providing required documents while acting as intermediaries with insurance providers if needed.

Beneficiaries have the option of receiving their payout either in one lump sum (typically tax-free) or as structured payments that include principal and interest over an agreed timeframe. Insurance providers will detail each payout option on their claim form. Beneficiaries should consult a financial advisor to select one that suits their specific needs best.

Whenever a claim is denied by an insurer, they should notify its beneficiary and provide clear instructions on how they can appeal. Beneficiaries should review the policy thoroughly and collect supporting documentation such as premium payment records, medical documents, police reports, or correspondence with their insurer in support of their position.

Submit the Claim

Once all necessary documents have been filed and verified beneficiaries and the policy was active at the time of death, life insurance proceeds will typically be released within several business days. Beneficiaries have the option to receive them either as a lump sum payment or through an annuity (payback over time), so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor for advice about which will provide better returns financially.

Submit the Claim

Life insurance companies sometimes need additional information to process claims, delaying payment of benefits. This may occur due to suspected fraud or the policyholder passing away within a one or two-year contestability period allowing the insurance provider to investigate claims made after death and ensure the insured was covered under the policy.

Beneficiaries should keep track of their loved one’s policy documents and locations, as well as seek assistance from an estate planning attorney or financial planner when structuring trusts for life insurance policies.

Choose Payout Option

the death of a loved one can be heartbreaking; yet trying to determine how best to access their life insurance payout can be even more distressful. They left this money for those they love and claims must be filed promptly after.

Once you’ve submitted all of the paperwork to an insurance company and submitted any required documentation, the next step should be selecting a payout option. Most companies complete this step in less than a week or two due to potential interest charges if funds remain held onto for too long.

Most people opt for a lump sum payout, in which their entire death benefit will be received all at once. Others might choose an annuity payout with payments distributed over time. Each option can have advantages and disadvantages depending on your particular circumstances; one key thing to remember when weighing these options is any taxes due on life insurance payouts will fall on their beneficiaries; so be sure to consult a tax professional about all their responsibilities.

Choose Payout Option


Losing a loved one is hard. Things like funeral costs, medical bills, or lost income can add to the pain. Having life insurance helps provide support during this tough time. Follow the steps to find the policy and choose how to get the payout. This makes the claims process easier. Get the help you deserve.

Remember, some delays may occur, so be patient and keep copies of all submitted documents. If you have any questions or require further guidance, consider consulting with an attorney or financial advisor specializing in estate planning.


How do I start the life insurance claim process?

To start the claim process, locate the policy document and contact the insurance company to request a claim form. You can usually find the policy document in the deceased’s records or use online tools to search for missing policies.

What documents are required to file a life insurance claim?

Typically, you’ll need to provide a certified death certificate, the policy document, and proof of identity. Additional documents like tax returns or credit card statements may be required to support your claim.

How long does it take to receive life insurance benefits?

The time frame varies, but most insurance companies pay claims within several business days after receiving the necessary documents. Delays may occur if additional information is needed or if the policy is still under investigation.

Can I choose how I receive my life insurance payout?

Yes, most insurance companies offer the option to receive your payout as a lump sum or annuity (structured payments over time). Consult a financial advisor to determine which option best suits your needs.

What if my life insurance claim is denied?

If your claim is denied, the insurance company will provide instructions on how to appeal. Review the policy document, gather supporting documentation, and consult with an attorney or financial advisor if necessary.

How do I know if I’m eligible for life insurance benefits?

Eligibility depends on the policy terms and conditions. Check the policy document or contact the insurance company to confirm your eligibility and understand the benefits you’re entitled to receive.

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