Just over half of Americans have a life insurance policy at the time of their death – 54% to be exact. That was one of the major findings of the 2020 Insurance Barometer Study.
In some cases, the next of kin doesn’t even know the life insurance policy exists. It comes as a complete shock, which means the beneficiary likely doesn’t know how to go about filing a life insurance claim. Even if you were aware of the life insurance policy, you may still have no idea what needs to be done after a loved one’s death.
Contact the Insurance Company
Before you try to file the claim, contact the insurance company to let them know the policyholder has passed. The insurance company representative can provide specific instructions for what needs to happen next so that you can get the claim filed and processed as quickly as possible.
Gather the Proper Documents to File a Life Insurance Claim
The insurance company can provide specific directions for how to file a claim. However, it’s basically a guarantee that you’ll need to produce the following documents:
- Death certificate – It needs to be a certified copy. You can request a copy from the state Vital Records office or the medical professional who prepared the death certificate.
- Policy/Account documentation – This document should note who the policyholder was, the amount of the death benefit and the term.
- Claim form – You can get a request for benefits form through the insurance company.
Gathering all of this information is an important step. The more prepared you are up front the quicker the claim process will go.
Wait for the Life Insurance Claim to be Approved
Now the insurance company has to do their part to process the claim. The first thing the company will do is verify who is the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. They’ll check your personal information against the information provided by the policyholder. Be prepared to give the insurance company a copy of your birth certificate, drivers license and/or social security card.
The insurance company will also verify that the policy was active at the time of death and in good standing. To remain active the life insurance premiums must be paid, and if it’s a term plan the policy can’t have reached the expiration date.
The time it takes to process a life insurance claim and receive benefits varies. It can take just a few days or a few months. In most cases, the company needs to process claims within 60 days. However, each state has their own laws regarding insurance claims so make sure to check the regulations where you live.
Choose a Lump Sum Payment or Annual Payments
Once everything checks out, the insurance company will issue the payment to the beneficiary. Most companies will give you an option for how you’d like to be paid. It’s common to have the choice between getting a check and having the funds sent via direct deposit.
You may also get the choice of getting the payout in one large lump sum or getting an annuity. An annuity is an annual payment for a set number of years. You may end up getting more in the long run if you choose the annuity option, but for some people the lump sum payment makes more financial sense.
None of this happens automatically. The beneficiary must take the initiative to file a claim or they won’t receive benefits. The good news is there’s no time limit for filing a life insurance claim. So if you find out you’re the beneficiary long after a loved one passes you can still receive the benefits that you’re owed.
If you’re making advanced arrangements, setting up cremation services in advance can save your loved ones time and money. The experts at Direct Cremate are here to answer any questions you have about advanced arrangements and the cremation process in general.