A life insurance claim is a very easy process to go through from the perspective that they are very easy to file with the insurance company.  Though it can be a very emotional time on a personal level, modern laws and fear of bad press mean that major life insurance companies make the process very smooth, and they will rarely deny a claim except under exceptional circumstances in which they are clearly in the legal right.

In order to file a claim correctly, it is best to understand every requirement that will be needed from you before you file.  Even if you submit your claim with missing information, the life insurance company will always work with you to make sure you get all the requirements in.  If you know the life insurance agent that sold the deceased person their policy, chances are they will be willing to help you through the process.  Even if the selling agent does not contact you, you do not need them to file a claim.  Simply call your life insurance company to report the death, and they will help you through the process.  Many life insurance companies will now even allow you to file a claim online.

Typical Claims Filing Process

Every company has small variations, but this generally the process and information needed for filing a claim with any company.


  1. Call the insurance company that sold the policy and ask to file a claim.
  2. They will send you a claim form in the mail, and let you know any additional requirements.
  3. Fill out the claim form, without missing any required fields.  If you do not provide all of the information your claim may be delayed.
  4. Submit the claim form with any additional requirements back to the life insurance company at the correct address.  Usually, an original death certificate will need to be submitted with the claim form.  This will not be returned.  Make sure to order one ahead of time to prevent delays.
  5. You often have your choice of keeping your claim money in an interest-earning account with the insurance company or taking the entire amount.  The interest-earning account sometimes pays higher interest rates than a comparable savings account, and checks can usually be written from it. If you need the money take the entire amount in a lump sum.  There are also other settlement options available.

Information Needed to File a Claim

This is the typical information required to complete a claim. Usually, this information includes basic insured personal information such as name, date of birth, and social security number. You will also need to provide a date of death, the official cause of death, original death certificate, funeral home information, and possibly other details surrounding the actual death of the insured. You may also need to provide your relationship to the insured person. If you are filing a claim on a missing person, they must first be legally be declared dead by the court before you can do so.

The last group of information needed will revolve around what you want to do with the proceeds.  The life insurance agent may try to get you to open a new policy with the new money, or move it to an account with the company.  Many companies will also let you keep money in an interest-earning account with them.  Usually, this account will pay more than similar savings accounts, and you can also write checks right from the account.  This is not a bad option for many people.  If you are more comfortable receiving the entire death benefit in one lump sum, insurance companies also will not prevent you from doing this.  Simply be clear how you are taking the proceeds when you fill out the paperwork.

Life Insurance Claim Time Frame

Expect to receive your money within two months.  Every state has different legal time requirements relating to claims, but every state has some laws which require the company to pay the claim in a timely manner.  Major insurance companies usually have very efficient claim filing and processing abilities, because they deal with so many every year.  Usually, you will have your claim money faster than two months if you submit all the required information.  Just remember that the longer you take to submit all requirements, the longer it may take the insurance company to pay.  Make sure that at a minimum, you get the death certificate to the life insurance company quickly.  Most state laws specifying how long an insurance company has to pay a claim to start the required date from when the company receives the death certificate.

Death Claim Contact Information For Major Insurance Companies

Not Sure If Someone Had Life Insurance?

If you are not sure if someone had a life insurance policy, you can use the policy locator service at the MIB to verify if you may be a beneficiary of a policy.  You can also check with the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), an organization of insurance providers, on their missing information page.  If you have any concerns with your claim being wrongly denied or delayed please contact your state insurance bureau.

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