The death of the family member is, obviously, a stressful time. Not only are you currently grieving, you might also be bearing a heavy load of practical and logistical work related to funeral planning, bureaucracy (like getting a death certificate) and so forth. One area where hopefully we can make life easier: Filing a claim when you are a life insurance beneficiary.
How is the next step that? Follow this straightforward guide.
Determine that you are, in fact, a beneficiary
It all starts here. In a perfect world, your loved one will have left you clear and detailed instructions about his or her policy, including the policy number. In real life, it doesn't always happen. That's why life insurance information mill necessary for law to conduct a search of the U.S. Social Security Administration's Death Master File (or similar database) – literally, a federal database of everyone that has died – on at least a semi-annual basis, after which use good faith efforts to locate and phone the beneficiaries of anybody who appears. If your loved one includes a Haven Term policy issued by MassMutual, know that MassMutual, the issuer from the policy, chooses to mine this database every month. (In related news, it certainly is smart to notify the Social Security Administration that your family member has died.)
But let's imagine you know your household's life insurance coverage company and you know you are a beneficiary. Then you're ready for the following step. Which is-
Gather some fundamental info about your loved one
To make your claim, you will need a government-issued death certificate, that will clearly state the date and reason for death. This really is key – not for nothing did PBS Frontline once call a death certificate “arguably the most important legal document in existence.” This really is therefore the life insurance company know the claim applies. (In case your loved one died within the contestability period, you might also need to provide additional documentation (such as medical records – more on that later.)
You'll also want to have your household's date of birth and Ssn, so that the life insurance company references the right person. (It's possible for just one carrier to insure, say, several Louis Wilsons.) After which it's helpful, though not essential, to have the policy number. You will also want to note your relationship towards the deceased person. Note that many of these things except the final death certificate can be obtained while the one you love continues to be living – which doing this can ease some pressure during what will already be a difficult time.
Contact the life insurance company
Typically this can drop one of two ways: The more common way (you reach out after procuring the contact information for the loved one's life insurance coverage company and plan number), or the less frequent way (the life span insurance company contacts you after discovering that your loved one has died).
Assuming you will be doing the contacting, you are able to file a claim by emailing or calling the claims team or any other contact provided within the policy document or online. Whenever you do (and whatever medium you choose), you may then get asked a series of questions. Fair warning: Some questions may appear odd, but they are required. For example, you will likely be asked concerning the loved one's marriage history – if the person had have you been divorced, remarried, etc. This is simply to find out if divorce laws apply. (This topic is particularly sensitive because divorce laws, which could impact property ownership, vary state by state.) You might like to get ready emotionally and mentally for these types of questions.
Things that may extend wait times for any claim
Generally, it always assumes two to four weeks in the end the required claim documentation is received for a life insurance coverage company to pay out claims. You may also choose to get the payment through direct deposit if your life insurance coverage company offers that option, reducing lag time caused by mail delivery.
A few factors might extend that wait:
If the one you love dies abroad …
This can also add an additional layer of paperwork to getting a death certificate, which means it will take the insurer longer to validate a claim.
If your loved one dies inside the contestability period …
Typically, there's a two-year suicide and contestability period from the moment coverage begins. This means the insurer can review documentation to verify that there wasn't any material misrepresentation at the time of the application for that policy (such as not disclosing a significant illness). This really is to safeguard insurers from potential fraud. It's a sensitive topic, and one that no party broaches lightly.
If you use a 3rd party …
Often, funeral homes will offer you to help with filing a claim, or some people readily attorney. Solve these questions . make the right choice for you. You may would rather work directly with the life insurance company to be able to respond quickly in case any other information is needed to spend the money for claim.
Oh, and we should mention when, for reasons uknown, you don't file a claim immediately, i am not saying you won't get paid. Again, all life insurance companies are legally required to search the Death Master File a minimum of semi-annually, which means that in case your loved one named you like a beneficiary, the life insurance carrier will make a good faith effort to discover you. It's always a good idea to for the insured to update the beneficiary's contact information using the insurer if there has been any changes.
One final thing
Rarely, an existence insurance provider might not honor a claim – for misrepresenting with an application, for example, or a variety of reasons we've outlined here. In the event that happens, the life insurance company will let you know, typically having a letter explaining why.
As we noted, this really is uncommon. Saying goodbye to a family member is difficult enough already. But if your insurer have the right information, making a life insurance claim ought to be the least of your worries.