FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Losing someone you love is hard enough, and not receiving the individual’s life insurance policy death benefits in a timely manner can make it that much harder. While there is no time limit for claiming life insurance death benefits, life insurance companies do have time limits they must adhere to when it comes to paying out claims. It is usually very uncommon for large companies to not pay within 30 days of an insured individual’s death.

It is extremely rare for an insurer to take longer than 60 days to pay a claim, and if all documents are in order and the claim is pretty straightforward, then the claim should be processed and only take around 10 to 14 days. Pinning an exact amount days is difficult, simply due to the amount of time that it will take depending on the company, the laws of your state, and the speed in which you provide your insurer with all of the claim requirements. Having said that, there are ways to try and make sure that you get your claim within the timeframe needed.

Filing Claims and Prompt Payments

life insurance claim after deathYou do not have to file a claim for a life insurance policy within a certain timeframe. In fact, the life insurance death benefit will usually grow with interest until the claim is filed or the life insurance company can find the beneficiary. The ever-growing death benefit, along with state laws mandating prompt payment of life insurance money, usually force life insurers to act quickly in issuing payment.

Each state has a different set of laws that regulate life insurance companies differently. This is why you need to read and understand the laws of your state and interpret how they handle these claims. Each state has separate rules with a set maximum amount of time that a life insurance company can take to pay a claim, but most companies will pay must faster if there are certain steps that are taken.

How to Make Sure You are Getting Your Claims Fast

There are steps that you can take you to ensure that you as a beneficiary will have your death claim paid within the timeframe that you prefer. It is important to make you are patient with this process and understand that not all claims are going to be paid immediately and that claims take a certain amount of time. The reason that this process may take some time is that your insurer has to make sure that the claim is valid and that you are not attempting to commit fraud. Having said that, there are ways to make your life insurance claim come quickly.

  • Having The Death Certificate Ready – When attempting to receive your claim, you must bring a death certificate with you to show that the insured person has passed away. All companies require an original death certificate and they will not return it once it is received. It is beneficial to order multiple death certificates, that way you are able to provide an original to each of their life insurance companies.
  • Contacting Your Life Insurance Company – The process after a loved one’s death can be extremely time-consuming, ultimately leaving you so busy to the point where you do not have time to contact your life insurance company. It still is extremely important to contact your insurer quickly after the insured person’s death.
  • Making Sure You Have All Requirements – Once you have filled all of the paperwork requirements, make sure that all of the supporting documentation is attached to it. Insurance companies usually required a claim form, an original death certificate, and sometimes even the original policy. If you do not have the original policy, then notify the insurance company and they will figure it out with you.

With these steps, you should be able to easily have the benefit issued to you quickly and in the time frame that you are seeking.

Reasons Your Claim Might Take Longer Than You’d Like

There are reasons that your claim may take a while to process (or even be denied) and these reasons could be any of the following:

  • A Claim Happening During a Contestable Period – After the first two years of a policy being issued, then this period is known as the contestable period. When a claim is filed underneath the contestable period, then your insurer may choose to review any of the individual’s medical records further. The insurance company will make sure that everything on the insurance application is true, and that the insured person did not lie or misrepresent any facts.
  • Your Documents are Not in Order – Another common reason that you may be slowing your claim down is due to not having your documents in order. It is essential to ensure that all of your documents are filled out completely, you have the original death certificate ready to go, and that any other documents needed are provided. Without this, you are prolonging the amount of time it takes to receive your claim.
  • Life Insurance Company Has a Backlog – Most insurance companies have a department that specializes in claims that they can handle any excess capacity with ease. With that being said, there are times where a backlog could delay processing for a few days, ultimately making the claim take a little longer to receive. If you believe that your company is purposefully withholding funds from you, then contact your state insurance department as soon as possible.

Overall, your insurance company should pay the claim within 30 days as long as none of these reasons are met. When it comes to how soon you need to make your claim, however, there are no rules pertaining to how long you have to cash in on a life insurance policy.

73 Comments

  1. I just found this certifcate of my dad’s from 1944 to be paid to my mother in case of my dad’s death. It is a longshot, but is the payment still valid? He died of natural causes in 2009, not war related. I can send u a picture if u need it.

    1. Hi Wendy, you will need to contact the life insurance company directly to see if the policy was still “in-force” (active) at the time of your father’s death. It is possible that it was.

  2. Dad died about 13 years ago just found out he had life insurance that was paid off ? Is it to late ? Thanks

    1. It is not too late. The life insurance company will stay pay a claim that can be proven to be valid. You should contact them directly to discuss.

    2. When an insurance company delays payment for almost four years, what kind of an attorney would I speak to in order to make sure the interest accrued for delayed payment is accurate? Thank you

  3. My father died 20 years ago with what I was told were two life insurance policies and I was the sole beneficiary of both. I was so distraught I never claimed these policies so now I need to find out the proper steps to take to find the policies because I don’t even remember the name of the policyholders.

  4. At the time of my divorce we had a life insurance policy. The premiums were not paid thereafter & not ex husband died. Myself & my children were the beneficiaries of that policy. IF ALL PAST DUE PREMIUMS WERE TO BE PAID IN FULL, COULD WE STILL RECEIVE BENEFITS?

    1. Hi Wilma, unfortunately not. Without getting too complicated this would be a huge risk to the life insurance company. Think about if this were done systematically. People would take out a life insurance policy and stop paying it. If the insured person died young, they would pay the missing premiums and get much more back in return, if the insured person died old, they would keep the premium payments. If insurance companies allowed this activity it would throw off the entire model that they base their business around.

  5. My father did a Trustee Life Insurance (GST) for my mother in 1976. My father died in 1987 but I don’t think my mother knew about it (he died suddenly and may not have said anything). My mother died in 2013. My sister was contacted or contacted the insurance company in 2018 but died in 2019. Just recently I found out about the insurance (she did not actually file a claim, and did not share info with me). The insurance company has sent me papers to fill out and I’m currently educating myself on Trustee Life Insurance and GST. Is it it still possible to file a successful claim? Insurance company currently won’t discuss details. I’m in shock.

    1. Hi Laurie, assuming that the trust was beneficiary of the policy, the trustee may need to be the one to file the claim. If the trust was dissolved and no other beneficiary named, the estate may be the defacto beneficiary. If you are beneficiary of the estate you will be able to file the claim with proper documentation. You may need an estate attorney to work through this. Good luck!

  6. I was told that I am the beneficiary on a work life insurance of a dear friend. She was not close to her family. She passed away recently and I am wondering how I get a copy of the death certificate. I have no relationship with her family and would not want them to know about the policy anyway.

  7. My father died last year July! As a beneficiary how long am I going to receive the money after the berial, is there any money should look after the family?

    1. Claims are not paid according to time past burial, the clock starts for the life insurance company to deny or accept a claim after a claim is submitted. Each State regulates the amount of time the life insurance company has to pay a claim, generally, it is between 30 and 60 days.

  8. My father pasted away 4 years ago. Is there a way to find out if someone has been awarded benefits from his policy or if there is still an unclaimed policy?

    1. The best way is to call the life insurance company. If he did not name a living beneficiary people who have a right to a share of the estate may be able to receive some benefits.

  9. christopher irwin nazareth

    I have a medical problem and my age now 65years my insurance premium increased I can’t afford to pay as I have retired from work. what can I do to claim my insurance on life insurance paid since long now. please guide me thanks. insurance?

    1. If I just join a life insurance today and I died in three months can my family still claim for me

  10. my mother had an accidental death life ins policy. she had an accident and fell and broke her hip and hand. on the death cert it doesnt say accidental death we do have a statement from the doctor stating cause of death. the ins co says i have to have the death cert showing cause of death to be aloud to file claim

  11. My stepfather died 5 months ago and left my 82 year old mother in a financial mess. She has Altizemers. I suspect that her 2 grandsons have a life insurance policy of his but they will not share any information. Even though we have my mother and trying to get her out of the terrible state he has left her in financially.

  12. My father passed away in 2018 and he had a life insurance non taxable annuity and I received a letter from ins company that I was beneficiary and to send in forms .i was in shock and called to make sure this was all real they said oh we are sorry the letter was mailed by mistake and I was not the beneficiary! Please advise!

  13. My mother passed away. There 3 insurance policies; each one with a different company. All of them have more than one Beneficiary.

    In order for each beneficiary to be paid does every person have to submit a death certificate or can the executor send in one so the others don’t have to purchase additional copies.

    1. Usually, one certificate will suffice.

  14. Hello and thank you for your time in this matter. My father’s job refused to pay his life ins police giving the reason that they were going bankrupt and they didnt go out of business they just moved to another location. They are still in business today. My father died in 1979 and my mother 9 month before in 1978. I was there only child. Im sure its way to late for me but for others that mite be in this situation is there anything that can be done. Thanks for your help SIR.

    1. You need to contact an attorney.

    2. Ashley C. Henderson- Henry

      I have a similar situation as Patricia. What kind of attorney should I look into hiring for this matter?

  15. Shonnquaries Anderson

    Hi my mom passed away I am the beneficiary but my cousin is the policy holder and will not give me any information. How do I go about this to get the information.

  16. The NAIC has published a website that allows searches for missing policies. It’s located at:

    https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome

  17. My mother passed away 6 years ago but I have just received a letter from an insurance company saying they were looking through policies and contacting policyholders they had no contact with for a number of years. Does this mean they have a policy to pay out?

  18. My husband died 21 years ago. I was the sole beneficiary of his policies and was paid that same year and received no further communication from the insurance company. I just received a 1099 INT from one of the life insurance companies for the current tax year. He is listed as both the card holder and the claimant on the check they sent for the interest. The check was made payable to me. Does that mean there is principle left somewhere in an account? And, why pay interest 21 years later with zero interest or communication in the intervening 20 years? Thanks.

  19. My grandma died last week & I, along with my cousin were declared beneficiaries but we can’t process the papers because her death certificate isn’t in our hands. Could it be possible that our beneficiary money can be claimed (e.g by my aunt) without our (we beneficaries) proper consent (like signature)?

  20. Hi, I’m in need of your advice. My grandfather past away on my birthday last year March 2019. My brother , sister , and myself are all listed on his life insurance policy as beneficiaries (My mom claims that she is listed as well but that’s questionable considering there relationship). There was family feuds from childhood that caused my brother, sister, and myself to be separated from my mom as infants and my grandfather was not on my moms side) My mom just called me asking for myself and my siblings certified birth certificates because the insurance company is giving my grandfathers current wife a hard time due to the fact that she isnt Listed as a beneficiary . I believe my relatives are scheming for the policy payout because theyre not giving me any info or options the only option was to send them the certified birth certificates. How can I handle this without going through my relatives when they have the insurance policy information? Any advice will be helpful. Thank you in advance.

    1. Call the life insurance company. If you were listed as a beneficiary, they will work with you. If you were not, there isn’t a lot you can do unless the payout goes through the estate.

  21. My son passed away two years ago. He left life insurance policy for my granddaughter. I am executor of the estate. . I am concerned. About the policy. They said she cannot have it till she’s 18 years old. I would like to have it put in a bank. And secured till she’s at least 25. No one to touch it. . I do not trust her mother at this aspects because her mother is spending her Social Security money at unreasonable rate. On herself. Can I get this money secured? And to a bank where it is backed. By the government

  22. I have an uncle who has let me and my brother know my dad had a life insurance policy 16yrs after his death. He said the insurance company cant locate me and my brother for 16yrs and he only knew 6 months ago. So then he decided to tell us how much we dont deserve it and that he cant give us any further details but he’ll be round to see us as he wants no dealings with the insurance claim but we have to fill out a form.
    We waited 3 weeks after the initial call when he had already said that he was coming at the weekend about 4 days to go to visit us in two different locations in Britain. We waited three weeks as we didnt want to appear pushy (keep in mind no contact with said relative for 16yrs). So i phoned him reluctantly and he now said that he spoke to the insurance company and they will contact me over the next 3 to 6 months and i could receive a penny or 100000 who knows. So i said this seems unusual and asked for the insurance company details again which he denied me and said wait. i want to know if there is anything i could do as my dad bless him died of cancer and trusted his brother to help his sons me and my brother after his death.
    Since he died his brother and the rest of the family have abandoned me and my ill brother (in care for mental health indefinitely) and i think they have known all about this but do not want us to have it as they have always looked down on our side of the family and do not want us to progress but love to boast on our failures.
    Is there away of finding the insurance company as they cant find us with my uncle in the way with malice and hate.
    Ps currently i have two autistic children 12yrs and 8yrs old and three other beautiful children in a tiny bungalow with my girlfriend of 14yrs i have been evicted from my family home and i live in temporary accommodation in one of the worst rated towns in england miles away from home (courtesy of the council over a letter they said they never received) i have a 20,000 debt of unpaid council debts due to eviction and costs and i have social services all over me due to my autistic son acting autistic in a main stream school as they cant find him a more fitted school for his needs.
    Im only letting you know all this as my uncle knows none of this as i suffer in silence but on this matter i would like to take my children on holiday just once in their lives as i never could.

  23. Hi My husband passed away in 2012 and only just found the insurance policies’ dated from 1995 which was locked away can I still claim much appreciated for your advice

    1. They may have lapsed unless they were fully paid up or dividends were paying the entire premium. You will need to check with your insurance company.

  24. Hey..My husband passed away 5years ago the bank wants to reposes the house..Court case dragging for 4years only to find out a day ago he had a Credit life insurrance with the same bank that’s been harassing me..Please i need to no exactly wat step to take next I realy need your help

    1. Hi Jeanine, it would be HIGHLY unusual and illegal for the bank’s forclosure process to be influenced by a life insurance policy (which probably does not pay the bank very much in the scheme of things). If the bank is following the legal forclosure process, there is not much you can do. If they are not, you have a case and should bring it to the attention of an attorney.

  25. My mother told me I m a beneficiary of her life insurance she passed away eighteen month s ago no one has told me anything in the family I have no information on it what should I do

  26. My mom passed in 1984 and resently received a letter telling me of a policy with a claim form informing me what was required of me being a beneficiary. I have no knowledge of a policy or what type it is. Would the insurance company contact me if I wasn’t owed a payout?. Thank you

    1. This sounds odd. I would go to a local office of the insurance company and ask an agent to help you pursue the potential claim.

  27. Hello, my mom passed away a few weeks ago and her cousin took life insurance for her, so can me and my siblings get the payout or is it going to her cousin since it was her who paid for the policy

    1. The listed beneficiaries will get the payout. The owner of the policy has the right to list whoever they wish as a beneficiary. You do not have a claim to a policy payout just because of your relationship to the insured person.

  28. Ma. Amanda Dengler

    My husband is american he die here in the Philippines all the file i give to U.S.Embassy,She toll me wait for 3 months.
    No letter sent me?

  29. My dad died 4 years ago. I don’t speak to his family ( spouse and other children) . My dad a month before his death for made a statement saying he was leaving all three of his something but his family won’t and don’t talk to me. I have found policies on missing money saying proceeds due to beneficiaries. Now if his spouse was paid out they year he did . What would this be and why won’t insurance company tell me if I’m anywhere on the policy. They say it’s checks mailed out but no one has cashed them. They are supposed to be mailing paper work to me to send back with a seal from financial institute. What does that mean?

  30. My grandmother passed away in 2012, and I’m just finding out I was the beneficiary to a life insurance policy thru transamerica, I was never informed and they sent my beneficiary to the claims and treasurer department of my state, I’m wondering how long will it take for me to receive my benefits I’ve sent the information to prove who i am, then they asked was she deceased, I sent her death certificate, what’s the next proccess?? And how long before I receive my benefits?? And how money do you think I will receive?? It Thru Transamerica and in my claim it read Transamerica life insurance Beneficiary (Gpa)

    1. I don’t know the processing time for your state, maybe expect about 6-8 weeks in general. You should get the full amount for which you were entitled to receive as beneficiary.

  31. My brother in law passed and my wife and I paid for the funeral. We found out shortly after that his girlfriend who’s is beneficiary on his life insurance is filing to claim it. Can my wife and I go after the life insurance policy to recover the funeral costs we paid as we didn’t know he had one

    1. No, he can leave his life insurance money to whoever he wishes. Ideally, she would pitch in, but is not required by law.

  32. My uncle paid 9 years of a 10yr policy and passed away 4 yrs ago. My mother who is his beneficiary has been contacted by his life insurance company recently advising her that they require her details and my uncles death certificate, will the policy pay out or will it just be a proportion of what he paid into it?

    1. Assuming he passed away during the term of the policy, you will get the full death benefit, assuming there were no other beneficiaries.

  33. I took care of my husband, now deceased, for 13 yrs. with brain cancer. After 2 yrs. time, i didn’t realize there was a time limit to claim the life insurance. When i did call to file for it. I was told that I was remarried. Does remarriage terminate the life insurance?
    Thank you,
    Brenda

  34. My ex-husband has a term life insurance policy and I am the beneficiary. The policy was written in 1995 and the term ends in 2029 when he will turn 70. Although he was supposed to pay 1/2 the premiums according to our divorce, he did not. I’ve been making the payments. I am not in touch with him. How can I be sure the life insurance company notifies me upon his death? I have moved several times since 1995 and have a different phone #. The premiums go up every five years, so this is a huge expense for me. Thank you.

  35. My husband died in 2017 , he took out a policy in 2011 for conventional Life and Conventional Accidental insurance. My daughter found the policy. It listed me as the beneficiary. We were divorced in 2015 but when he got ill we were going to get remarried but he made his transition. We just found the policy in March 2020 is it still any good for a payout. I no longer live in Michigan. I live in Georgia. Is it worth looking into. He died from renal cancer.
    Thanks Chandra Johnson

  36. My great grandparents passed away in the 90’s and I recently found 2 life insurance policies on the comptrollers unclaimed funds in my state. There is no living next of kin like children or other spouses. I do not share their last name l so how can i file a death claim and am I entitled to do so?

    1. Possibly if no grandchildren are alive. Contact the state and see what they require.

  37. My younger sister is the beneficiary of my dad’s life insurance, but on his will, my sister will receive 70% and the rest goes to me. How will I claim my 30%? Thank you.

    1. You should contact an attorney. You not be able to, or you may need to show which was filled out more recently.

  38. My father passed away in 2014…for sure I am one of the beneficiaries. I contacted NAIC who located a policy but no response to me from any life insurance company.
    Not sure why or what I should do now to possibly file a claim.
    Need advice please

    1. There is no way to know if you were a beneficiary for certain, BUT, life insurance companies lose track of paperwork and call-backs sometimes. I would follow up again until you get an answer. Ask to speak to a manager if you must. Also, enlist the help of a local agent to advocate on your behalf.

  39. Hello Sir. My father passed away in Feb. He told me that he had passed and I was the tertiary beneficiary on his annuity. I even remember signing the forms but when I call the insurance company they refuse to give me any information. They say the executor of his will has to send in papers authorizing them to give me information. I don’t know where to go or what to do. I thought beneficiaries override a will.

    1. As a tertiary beneficiary, you probably are not going to receive any money unless you know that the primary and secondary are no longer living. It is not a matter of beneficiaries overriding a will, it is about the legal right to information. The executor of the estate needs to authorize you as the defacto owner of the policy until it is fully paid out. If you believe that you have a claim on this money, I would suggest sending in the claim paperwork. I would ask the life insurance company about what to file with them. As a tertiary beneficiary, if you do not have a right to the money, you won’t learn any policy details unless you become authorized to inquire about the policy.

  40. I’m a beneficiary of a policy and the person past but the family won’t give me a obituary and during this time it’s hard for me to get a death certificate so what do I do is it just a lost on the claim I had to get his approval for can someone help or give me some advice

    1. You will need a death certificate. You will not lose the claim if you are a beneficiary.

  41. My mother passed away last month and her life insurance is to be paid out evenly between my siblings and I, do I have a time frame I have to file a claim for my part in Kansas ?

    1. It is always best to at least contact the life insurance company as soon as possible, but you do not have a hard time frame. Contact the insurance company so that they have your updated contact info, and they know that you are alive.

  42. My husband passed on Monday. We carried a small life insurance to make sure the house gets paid off. After paying the house I should have $20000. We were in the process of filling bankruptcy before the corona virus hit. Should I file bankruptcy before I deal with the life insurance? Or pay the house off and a larger bill then file bankruptcy? It’s a whole illiterate and not a term life insurance

    1. Hi Sheila, great question and one that I am not qualified to answer. You need to seek the help of a bankruptcy attorney. My guess, and this is not advice, is that the bankruptcy court will see the value of your life insurance policy as the value of your death claim regardless of whether you file before or after the claim is processed. I don’t know if your home is protected from bankruptcy though. It may be best to pay off the home and let the court decide which creditors get the remainder. Definitely ask an attorney!

  43. My mother died in 2004, and as one of six children, we all went through her personal belongings. I have moved a couple times since then, and recently moved three states away after 10 plus years of house. I’m starting to unbox things and found a life insurance policy my mother signed when she was 19 years old in 1951, in Memphis, TN. My dad was added as beneficiary in 1977 with us six children listed as secondaries. This was about a month ago and then I got busy with unpacking boxes. Last night I had a vivid dream about my dad telling me he left me a hundred shares. He passed away in 2018. Do you think this policy might still be valid? I researched the originating company, and now TransAmerica out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa has it. Interesting note, I just moved from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Tennessee!

    1. Hi Karen! It could be! No way of knowing. You can contact the life insurance company. The money was most likely paid to your Dad of course. Who knows what happened from there. Good luck!

  44. My father shot his wife five years ago unfortunately she pass away from the injury. I didn’t know my dad had me as beneficiary on his insurance. My father is sitting in jail now waiting to go to trial which now doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon because his lawyer drop his case. Ive sent the insurance company the death certificate and all my information and I have not heard or received anything from them. I live in Georgia and the incident happened in Miami fl. What do i need to do cause its been five years

    1. Hi Tina, the best thing to do is to contact a local agent for the company, and ask to work with them. I am confused with your explanation though. If your father is the insured person and he is alive, there is no claim to be made. If his ex-wife who passed away was the insured person and you were the beneficiary, you should be able to make a claim as long as it is valid.

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