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What You Need to Know About Collecting Death Benefits

How does a beneficiary collect a life insurance death benefit?

There may be a time in your life when you are faced with claiming a death benefit. This event may arise if you have been named as a beneficiary in a life insurance policy, and the insured has passed away.

You need information on a few items before claiming the death benefit. This article explains the process of collecting a life insurance death benefit.

You need a death certificate for filing insurance claims

You need a certified copy of the death certificate when filing a life insurance claim. The department of public health services in the state in which the death occurred maintains the death record.1

There are various ways to secure certified copies of a death certificate. You can go in person to the main government office or other officially designated offices in other cities within the state. The funeral home you are working with may be able to get certified copies on your behalf. You can obtain death certificate copies by mail or online from the state office.

There is usually a small fee for the death certificate.

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The average time for a death benefit paid can be as early as two weeks to two or three months.

Contact the life insurance agent or insurance company

The next step is contacting the agent who sold the life insurance policy.2

If you have the original life insurance policy, the agent’s name and contact number should be on the form. If you cannot find the name or phone number of the agent, contacting the insurance company will be the best route. Once you contact the insurance company claim services, they can help you file a life insurance benefit claim.

Filing the claim for the life insurance death benefit

Either the insurance agent or the claims department will provide the necessary forms to be filled out. Once the forms are submitted with certified copies of the death certificate, the company will issue the proceeds if it’s determined the claim is payable.3

The information you will need along with a certified copy of the death certificate are:

  1. The full name of the insured person
  2. The date of death
  3. The cause of the death
  4. The place of death
  5. Your full legal name
  6. Address where the payment should be sent

If there is more than one beneficiary on the insurance policy, each beneficiary has to submit the appropriate forms to the insurer using the same process. Consulting the agent who sold the insurance policy can help  expedite the process.

The average time for a death benefit paid can be as early as two weeks to two or three months.5

The timeframe depends on a number of factors, including whether the insurance company needs to investigate the claim file.

Resisted and denied claims for a life insurance benefit claim

There are possible reasons for a death claim being resisted or denied. A resisted claim occurs when the beneficiary may not receive the full-face value of a life insurance policy.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, there are several reasons insurers will deny or delay the death claim.4

  1. The policyholder has changed the designated beneficiary
  2. Other designated beneficiaries are contesting the claim
  3. The policy lapsed and is no longer valid
  4. The claim made is for a benefit the policy does not cover (such as suicide within the first two years of the policy)
  5. There has been fraud on the part of the insured
  6. There has been foul play toward the insured on the part of the designated beneficiary filing the claim

Speak to a licensed life insurance agent for more information.

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