How do I know if I’m a beneficiary?

Beneficiaries will need to file a death claim to receive the payout. You should talk to your loved ones to find out if you’re named as a beneficiary. If you know in advance, it can help limit confusion when a claim needs to be made.

What do I need to know to file a claim?

To be best equipped for the death benefit claims process, ask for: the policyholder’s full name, the insurer’s name, the policy number, the insurer’s contact information for death benefit claims, and if possible, a copy of the policy.

What happens if all my beneficiaries die before me?

If there isn’t a named beneficiary who can claim the life insurance proceeds, the death benefit would go to your estate. When the death benefit goes to an estate, it can take a lot longer for your loved ones to receive the money because it must go through probate. It might also be subject to estate taxes or debt collection. You should always list a contingent beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries and update your policy whenever there is a big life event.

Will my claim get denied?

Insurance companies usually pay out claims, but in rare cases, a claim will be denied. When that happens, the insurer will typically reimburse the premiums paid to the beneficiary or the deceased’s estate, but the death benefit will not be paid.

Contestability period

Most life insurance policies have a contestability period. This usually lasts two years from when the policy goes into effect and it protects the insurance company from misrepresentation. It allows the insurer to verify the information provided to them during the application process is true and wasn’t misrepresented in favor of the policyholder. Any misrepresentation on the application breaks the contract. After the contestability period ends, the insurer can no longer contest.

Most claims will be paid within one or two months, but it may take longer if any investigation is needed, for instance if the insured is believed to have misrepresented information on their application.

Suicide clause

Insurance policies have a suicide clause that says that a death benefit will not be paid out if the insured commits suicide within the first two years of purchasing the policy. After 2 years, this clause no longer applies.

Homicide

If the policyholder was killed, the insurance company will wait until any beneficiaries are cleared of foul play before paying the death benefit.

After the claim has been filed

After you contact the insurance company and submit the necessary documents, you’ll wait for the claim to be processed.  Once it’s processed, you can choose how you want to receive the money. A lump sum payment or annuity payments are the most common.

 

The Bottom Line

Filing a life insurance claim isn’t complicated, but it’s important to know these special considerations.