What's involved in making a life insurance claim?

Start the claim process by contacting the insurance company or local agent. Let them know your loved one has passed, and ask for help making a claim. Keep in mind the beneficiary identified in the life insurance contract is the only entity eligible to receive policy benefits.

Specifics of the claim process vary by company, but there are similarities. All require a certified copy of the death certificate (available from the funeral director or local health department). There will also be a company-specific document asking for the insured's name, date of death, cause of death, place of death, your credentials as beneficiary, payout preference (lump sum, installment, or other option), and more. Promptly return all forms and supplemental materials.

Companies typically pay claims quickly. Incomplete documentation, inconsistencies on a policy in force for less than two years, or an unusual cause of death may lead to a processing delay. Benefits can be denied if the policy is no longer in force, the individual lied on the application, the cause of death is outside the scope of coverage, or in cases of fraud.