The Life Insurance Company Has A Backlog
Sometimes insurers may have a claim backlog due to staff shortages or a busy schedule. This can delay processing your claim by a few days. However, if you suspect that your claim is delayed for unfair reasons, you should contact a life insurance attorney to protect your rights.
Our attorneys know how claims are reviewed and what information the insurance company needs to pay your claim fast. They have successfully handled hundreds of life insurance claims for beneficiaries. Here are some delayed claim cases that were resolved in the favor of the beneficiary:
- We have helped a client whose fiancé died during the contestability period
If you need assistance with a delayed claim, with one of our lawyers.
How Does A Beneficiary Claim On Life Insurance
If the person holding the life insurance policy dies, the beneficiary will need to show proof of death to the insurer in order to make a claim on the policy. Who does this will depend upon the age of the beneficiary and it may be the case that a trustee makes the claim if the beneficiary is too young.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Life Insurance Payout
The time it takes to receive the death benefit varies, but most people can expect to receive their payment in under 60 days. How quickly you receive the life insurance money depends on:
When you file your claim
Documents required for your claim
How long the policy was in force
The cause of death
State laws governing insurance payouts
Some states require life insurance companies to periodically check their list of policyholders against the Social Security Administrationâs death records to keep death benefits from going unclaimed. But, that process is slow and can be unreliable.
The best way to ensure you receive a payout is to file a claim yourself. Many life insurance companies let you file a claim online, and will ask you for documentation to prove the claim and your identity.
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When To Expect The Life Insurance Death Benefit Payout
The first thing the life insurance company will do is perform a few preliminary checks to make sure you are the beneficiary assigned to the policy so they dont pay the wrong person.
They also want to make sure the policy is still active and payments were up to date. You might also have to deal with the contestability period.
Wait For The Claim To Be Processed
Now comes a very challenging part of the process: waiting for the claim to be processed.
The life insurance company will be following their standard operating procedures, starting with verifying that the policy was still in effect when the insured passed away. If the premiums hasnt been paid and the policy has lapsed, the insurance company will not be paying out a death benefit.
Theyre also going to want to verify that you are the person named as the beneficiary. They may require proof of your identity, such as a driver’s license, Social Security card, or birth certificate.
A very common question concerns the length of time it takes for the insurance company to process the claim. If all of the paperwork is in order and the insurance company does not have any concerns about the claim’s validity, they may pay you the death benefit in as little as a few days, but it can take 30 to 60 days.
Each state insurance department has a set time period in which the insurer must pay the death benefit unless there is substantial reason for an investigation into the death of the insured or the claim itself.
If youd like to know in advance how long it will take, contact your insurance company or research your states statutes online.
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How Long Do Beneficiaries Have To Claim A Life Insurance Policy
One in 600 Americans is the unknowing beneficiary of a forgotten or misplaced life insurance policy, according to Consumer Reports. The average unclaimed death benefit is $2,000 but can reach as high as $300,000. Could you be one of the many life insurance beneficiaries that havent yet filed their claim?
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Maybe youre not sure how to even begin the process of collecting the life insurance payout. Or perhaps youre uncertain as to whether the insurance company will still honor the claim since months or years have passed. Those are all valid concerns, and we have the answers below.
Uncertainty Of Beneficiary Status
While its always a good idea for insured adults to let loved ones know that theyre a beneficiary of a policy, that doesnt always happen. If youre not sure whether youre in line to receive a payout, you can also double-check by going online and using the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Life Insurance Policy Locator Service, which searches all of its member companies for matching policies.
Though the service is free, it can take up to three months to hear back. Therefore, its a process you probably want to start only after scouring the deceaseds personal records for more-concrete information about their policy.
Even if you dont contact the insurance company, theres a good chance it will find out about the policyholders death eventually. Thats because insurers in some states are required to regularly cross-check their list of customers against the Social Security Administration Death Master File . When they find out about the death through that process, theyll contact any beneficiaries, although it may take substantially longer this way.
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Why Are Life Insurance Claims Delayed Or Denied
As long as you have paperwork on hand to verify the policyholderâs death and your status as a beneficiary, you shouldnât have issues filing a claim. However, some claims might be delayed or â in very rare cases â denied due to:
Exclusions: If a policyholder dies doing something not covered by their policy, like skydiving, you will not receive a life insurance payout.
Fraud: If the policyholder lied on their insurance application or there are questionable circumstances around their death, the provider will investigate and may decrease or deny the payout.
Missing policy paperwork: Youâll likely need a copy of the deceasedâs policy to file a claim. If you donât know where to find it or other required documents, it will slow the claims process.
Policy lapse: If the deceased stopped paying their premiums and let their policy lapse, you wonât get any death benefit because their coverage is no longer active.
The contestability period: A death in the first two years of a policy falls under contestability, during which the insurer can review an insurance application for fraud. This might delay a payout, but as long as the deceased was honest, youâll receive the full death benefit.
The provider will eventually process your claim as long as any investigation finds no violations of the policy contract.
Obituary or newspaper article regarding the death
Proof of your identity, such as a government-issued ID
What Happens If You Dont Have A Life Insurance Beneficiary
If you dont name a life insurance beneficiary, or all your beneficiaries pass away before you do, your estate becomes the beneficiary. This means the life insurance proceeds go into estate probate, a long legal process during which your debts are settled and your estate is divided.
Since estate probate can take months and creditors can come after the life insurance death benefit, we recommend naming beneficiaries and keeping the list regularly updated. Otherwise, your family may not receive money when they need it or their payout might be reduced. This is also why, while you can name your estate as a beneficiary, we dont recommend this option.
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How Long Does It Take To File A Life Insurance Claim
If you dont even know the name of the insurance company, you could try using the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Life Insurance Policy Locator Service to search for the policyholders name. This should be a last resort because it can add up to 90 business days to the claims process.
How To Prevent Unclaimed Life Insurance Policies
If you are a life insurance policy owner, you must inform your beneficiaries about their entitled benefits. They need to know how much payout they can claim and how the claims process works.
Store a copy of your insurance statements in a secure place along with other estate documents, but let your beneficiaries know where all the active policies are kept.
If you have lost a loved one years ago but are unsure whether they left a life insurance policy behind, it may be a good idea to search for it. It can be worth your while to find an unclaimed permanent life insurance policy that you had no idea existed at a time when you need it the most.
If you have ever dealt with the trouble of looking for an unclaimed policy, it should serve as a lesson to you. From now on, you should provide all the relevant information to your own beneficiaries to avoid any unclaimed life insurance scenarios.
In addition, you must keep your nominees details updated, including their names, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, and mailing addresses, so that the insurer has no trouble finding them.
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Do You Get Cash Value And Death Benefit When You Die
No. A permanent or whole life policyholder may take out loans or withdrawals against the cash value of the policy while he or she is still alive4. After the insured passes away the whole life insurance death benefit is distributed to beneficiaries, but any excess cash value may be retained by the insurance company. A term life policy has no cash value, so in that case the question is moot.
What Issues Can Hold Up A Life Insurance Payout
Some of the common issues that hold up payment are:
- Incomplete information or documentation: Make sure your claim form is complete and accurate. You’ll also need a certified death certificate.
- The person committed suicide: Many life insurance suicide clauses state that there will be no payment if the person dies from suicide within two years after taking out the policy. If an insurer suspects suicide within that time it may investigate.
- The person died during a contestability period: The contestability period is typically the two years after the life insurance policy is issued. If the policyholder dies during this time, the life insurance company has the right to investigate the claim. For example, if a person failed to disclose on the application that they had been diagnosed with a heart condition, the insurer might investigate a death due to that problem, according to the ACLI.
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Life Insurance Payout: How Does It Work
10 Minute Read | December 30, 2021
Grieving the death of a loved one is the hardest thing in the world. The last thing you want to do in the middle of it is stress over moneyand thats why your loved one had life insurance.
But trying to collect on their policy can be confusing. If youre like most people, youve got questions like: How do I claim the life insurance payout? When will the money get here? How will the money get here?
If youve experienced a lossor youre helping a loved one through their losswe are so sorry. This situation is devastating, and it sucks. But when you understand how life insurance payouts work, you can get the money you need to take care of yourself and your family during this difficult time. So lets get started.
How To Change A Life Insurance Beneficiary
Changing your beneficiary is a simple process. You just request a beneficiary change form from your life insurance company, enter the necessary information and return it to them.
The only time this process becomes complex is if you have irrevocable beneficiaries. You cannot remove or change the designated payout for irrevocable beneficiaries without their express consent. This is in contrast to revocable beneficiaries, who you can remove or edit the payout of whenever you choose. Having irrevocable beneficiaries can be difficult if, for example, you get divorced and need your ex-wifes consent to change how your life insurance benefits are paid out. When you complete a designated beneficiary form, it will specify whether the beneficiaries are irrevocable or revocable, so make sure to check.
The majority of cases where a life insurance beneficiary is contested have to do with divorce or changes made soon before death . This is why we recommend keeping your list of beneficiaries updated regularly and actively informing your family about any changes. The reason to have life insurance is to provide financial coverage to those you care about and you dont want the proceeds locked up in court for years.
The only situation in which you wouldnt be able to change a beneficiary would be if youre declared legally incompetent.
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Contact The Life Insurance Company
Notifying the insurance company as soon as possible after a loved ones death may expedite getting your life insurance claim paid. If you know the name of the agent who sold the policy to the policyholder, he/she may help getting through to the claims department. With employer provided life insurance coverage, contacting the human resources/benefits department at the decedents place of work will help start the life insurance claim process.
Check Old Bills & Mail
Life insurance companies will continue to send premium notices and updates via mail and/or email, so be sure to check your loved ones mail and email. Credit card and other financial statements may also help you find out if a policy exists.
There are also companies who will search for a lost policy for your loved one, and they can be a helpful resource for how to find out if someone has life insurance. Representatives will contact hundreds of life insurance companies on your behalf to determine whether your loved one had a policy. Fees vary, and scams involving this type of service do exist, so do your research before you go this route.
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How Much Life Insurance Do I Need
Determining how much life insurance you need can be difficult. Fortunately, Insure.com can help you zero in on the right amount of coverage for you.
Stop by our Insurance Advisor and answer a few basic questions about life insurance plans and your needs. This will help you determine the state of your life insurance well-being.
You can also use our life insurance calculator to get an even more precise idea of the level of coverage you require.
Still unsure of what you need? Talk to an independent life insurance agent. These experts will ask the right questions to guide you to the policy that is best for you.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim
There is no time limit when it comes to filing a claim. Youâre in your rights to collect a death benefit at any time after your loved one has passed, provided that their policy was active at the time of death. But the sooner you file a claim, the sooner youâll get paid.
Limit confusion by letting your beneficiaries know you’ve named them.
– Patrick Hanzel, certified financial planner and Advanced Planning Team Lead
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Does Your Living Relative Have Life Insurance
Though the best way to figure out if your relative has coverage is to ask him or her, there are some situations where its not an option. For example, if your loved one lives with dementia or mental illness, he or she may not be able to tell you the status of his or her coverage. The same may be true if your relative has been injured in a sudden accident or unforeseen medical emergency. If you need to know if your living relative has life insurance, you should follow the same steps listed above.
The Life Insurance Company Is Unable To Locate The Policys Beneficiaries
There might be one or both of two problems in this scenario. The first is that the descriptions of the beneficiaries might be insufficiently precise for the life insurance company to locate them. This would be the case, for example, if the beneficiary designation says my wife or my children without naming them specifically and, ideally, providing a Social Security number and a current address for each one.
Be sure to provide detailed personal identification information about every beneficiary to each life insurer from whom you have coverage for death benefits so that they can easily be located and their identity confirmed.
The other problem is that, even if the company knows who it is looking for, it may be very difficult to track down a beneficiary, especially as it may be many years, or even decades, since the policy was taken out. Keep in mind that, for privacy reasons, until the death occurs, the life insurer cannot even respond to a beneficiarys inquiry as to whether they are a beneficiary or not.
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How Do I Know If I Am A Beneficiary
The life insurance death benefit isnât paid out automatically. Beneficiaries must file a death claim to receive the payout, which is why you should talk to your loved ones to find out if youârenamed as a beneficiary.
âIt’s a good idea to make sure your beneficiaries are aware of any policies you have in place,â says Patrick Hanzel, certified financial planner and Advanced Planning Team Lead at Policygenius. âThis can help limit confusion when a claim needs to be made during an already difficult time.â
There are a lot oflife insurance companies out there â and simply knowing youâre the beneficiary of a policy isnât enough. To file a claim, youâll need to know where the policyholder bought a policy from. While itâs completely possible to find a lost life insurance policy, itâs extra stress you donât want to take on when grieving the loss of a loved one.
To be best equipped for the death benefit claims process, ask your loved ones for the following policy information:
The policyholderâs full name
The insurerâs name
The insurerâs contact information for death benefit claims
If possible, a copy of the policy