The life insurance claims process

What you need to know about filing for a life insurance claim

Nupur Gambhir

Updated March 23, 2020|4 min read

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Editorial disclosure

Losing a loved one is hard enough — we want to make it as easy as possible for you to file your life insurance claim.

To initiate the life insurance claims process, start by contacting the insurance company’s claims department. You can find contact information for different life insurance companies below.

The insurance company’s claims department will walk you through the next steps and send you documents to complete.

Always required:

1. Claim form

Sometimes required:

1. Death certificate

2. Completed HIPAA Authorization

Supplemental documentation is required by some life insurance companies, but not all. If you don’t have a copy of the supplemental materials that the life insurance company is asking for, the company’s life insurance representative will work with you to figure out what else you can provide to receive the death benefit.

Depending on the insurance company, you may receive the necessary paperwork by mail or email.

How to file a claim

AIG

How to file the claim: Call 844-452-3832 or file claim online here

Life insurance customer service line: 800-888-2452

Hours of Operation: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm EST

Banner/William Penn

How to file the claim: Call 888-585-9198, ext. 6974 or file claim online here

Hours of Operation: 8:30 am - 7:00 pm EST

Brighthouse

How to file the claim: Call (800) 638-5000

Hours of operation: Monday - Friday: 8 am - 8 pm EST

John Hancock

How to file the claim: Call (800) 387-2747 or file claim online here

Hours of operation: Monday - Friday, 8 am to 6 pm EST

Lincoln Financial

How to file the claim: Call (800) 487-1485, option 4 or file claim online here

Hours of operation: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm EST

Mutual of Omaha

How to file the claim: Call (800) 456-0227

Hours of operation: 8:30 am - 6:00 pm EST

Pacific Life

How to file the claim: Prime policy - Call (800) 347-7787, option 1 then 2.

Promise policy - (844) 276-5759, option 4

Hours of operation: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm EST

Principal

How to file the claim: Call (800) 331-2213

Hours of operation: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm EST

Protective

How to file the claim: (800) 866-9933 or file claim online here. Once your claim is initiated, you can follow up here

Hours of operation: Monday - Thursday: 8:30 am - 7:00 pm EST. Friday: 8:30 am - 6:00 pm EST

Prudential

How to file the claim: (800) 496-1035 or file claim online here

Hours of operation: 9:00 am EST - 6:00 pm EST

SBLI

How to file the claim: Call (800) 694-7254 or file claim online here

Hours of operation: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm EST

Transamerica

How to file the claim: Call (800) 238-4310, option 2 or file claim online here

Hours of operation: Final expense policies: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm EST.

Term life policies: 8:30 am - 7:00 pm EST

If you don’t have a copy of the policy or don’t know the policy number, you can still prove you’re the beneficiary of the life insurance policy by providing the name, social security number, and birth date of the deceased to the life insurance company.

If you’re unsure which insurance company issued the life insurance policy, there are a few tools you can use to help figure it out:

  1. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life Insurance Policy Locator Service helps people track down life insurance policies

  2. You can plug in the deceased’s information into your state’s Department of Insurance (DOI) website. The contact information for each state department can be found here.

  3. Unclaimed.org or MissingMoney.com narrow down who owes you funds

Additional details you’ll need to know when filing for the death benefit:

How you receive the death benefit

You can choose to receive the death benefit in one lump sum or in installments, which will be referred to as an “annuity” on life insurance forms. If you choose to receive the death benefit in one lump sum, you will get the entire death benefit at one time, whereas a death benefit paid out in installments will be paid out over time,until the money runs out.

Lump sum death benefits are paid out free of any income tax and are usually the recommended method of receiving the life insurance pay out. If possible, work with a financial advisor to figure out the best option for you.

How long it takes to receive the death benefit

After you completed the necessary paperwork and filed the life insurance claim, you may receive the death benefit in as few as five days or as many as 45 days.

Though rare, there are cases where the life insurance company may need to review additional information to accept your claim. The timeline to receive the death benefit can be longer if the insurer requires any supplemental documentation, or if an investigation or additional medical records are needed. If this is the case, they’ll let you know what they might need from you.

How do you get the death benefit money?

There a few different ways that life insurance companies might pay out the death benefit:

  • A deposit into a checking or savings account

  • A check

  • A checkbook from the life insurance company that can be used for expenses

Most of the time, how you receive the death benefit will be at your discretion, but it also depends on the life insurance company. Some life insurance companies may offer all three options, while others may only offer one method of receipt.