What is involved in making a life insurance claim?

Start with locating the deceased's life insurance records. There may be multiple individual life policies, group coverage, travel accident plans, credit-life, government or other plans. People often store this information in a bank safe deposit box or in-home filing cabinet. Ideally your loved one left a trail outlining each life insurance policy along with the company name, benefit payout and contact information. Check with current and past employers to verify group life insurance.

Next, get in touch with each insurance company. If there is a local agent, request assistance making a claim. For group life coverage, contact the employer's human resource department. Verify policy status as you notify insurers of your loved one's death.

Ask each insurance representative for claim-filing instructions. Paperwork and document requirements can vary by company. You may be asked to return a certified death certificate, company-specific claim form, beneficiary credentials, payout preference (lump sum, installment, other option), hospital records, copy of policy form or other materials. Complete, sign and return all requested forms and supplemental documents as soon as possible.

Most life insurance benefits are paid promptly. Incomplete documentation may lead to a processing delay as well as inconsistencies on a policy in force less than two years, an unusual cause of death or in cases of fraud.