Is There A Time Limit For Filing a Claim Life Insurance?
In most situations, there is no absolute deadline that a claimant must meet to make a claim for life insurance benefits. While policies will usually provide a time frame for submitting a claim, they are obligated to respect any extenuating circumstances that may have prevented a beneficiary from submitting a claim within that time frame. However, this means that you will need to be able to explain why you were unable to submit your claim in the time frame provided by the insurance company.
If you have recently lost a loved one, it is understandable for your mind to be on matters other than a life insurance policy. There are any number of reasons that your insurance claim may be delayed. Do not fear the lapse of time; you should still be entitled to benefits once you submit a claim.
What Factors Determine Whether Your Claim For Benefits Is Late?
A life insurance beneficiary may be unable to submit a timely claim for any number of reasons, including:
- The beneficiary was unaware of the life insurance policy.
o You may have been named as a beneficiary by someone without ever knowing they had a life insurance policy. Insurers have little incentive to reach out to inform you that you are entitled to benefits, so many policies go unclaimed because the beneficiaries do not know about them.
- The beneficiary was unaware they had been named in a life insurance policy.
o If the deceased did not tell you they designated you as a beneficiary, you may be unaware that you need to submit a claim. This can also happen if you were a secondary beneficiary and were unaware that the primary beneficiary was precluded from receiving benefits.
- The beneficiary did not know which insurance company issued the policy.
o Even if you know that a life insurance policy is out there somewhere, you may not know which insurance company issued it. If this happens, your best course of action is to conduct your own investigation to determine who issued the policy. You can do this by looking through the insured’s bank statements or correspondence, or by contacting their employer and requesting any information you can use to determine the correct insurance company. You may also be able to locate a life insurance policy using the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) website. The NAIC Life Policy Locator can assist you in locating life insurance policies and annuity contracts of a deceased family member or close relationship. For information on how to complete the request form, you can review the Frequently Asked Questions on that website.
When a request is received, the NAIC will: Ask participating companies to search their records to determine whether they have a life insurance policy or annuity contract in the name of the deceased that you entered or ask participating companies that have policy information to respond to you, as the requestor, if you are the designated beneficiary or are authorized to receive information.
- The insurance company told the beneficiary not to file a claim.
o You may have a valid life insurance claim, but an insurance company representative may have inaccurately told you that the claim would not be paid. You should always question such a response from a life insurance company and speak to a life insurance attorney for an unbiased opinion.
What Happens If I Do Not Claim My Life Insurance Benefits??
Every year, millions of dollars of life insurance benefits go unclaimed. When this happens, the insurance company turns the money over to a state unclaimed property office. Then, you would have to go through the state to recover the benefits, rather than getting them from the insurance company. This is an added complication, so it is best to claim your benefits before it gets to this point, if possible.
While there usually is no set deadline for a valid claim for life insurance benefits, there are deadlines for appealing a denied claim or taking legal action to recover benefits. Each state has its own statute of limitations for appealing denied claims, so your particular deadline will vary depending on where you live. When in doubt, speak to an attorney to understand your deadline.
How Do I File A Life Insurance Claim?
There are four easy steps to submit a claim for life insurance benefits:
1. Collect all relevant documents. You will need at least three things:
1. a death certificate,
2. the life insurance policy,
3. a claim form, or “request for benefits.”
2. Contact the insurance company. You will need to notify them of the death and submit your claim. This can often be done online.
3. Wait for your claim to be processed. Once you have done your end of the work, the insurance company will take time to ensure all the conditions for a payout have been met. Depending on how long the claim processing takes, you may not receive your benefits for up to 60 days.
4. Instruct the insurance company as to how you want to receive the benefits. Many companies will pay out a death benefit as a lump sum, but you may have other options. A popular alternative is receiving your money in periodic installments. Options vary from one insurance company to the next, so you should look into what options are available from the insurance company handling your claim.
How Can A Life Insurance Lawyer Help?
Whether you need to submit a claim for life insurance benefits, determine if your claim is late, better understand life insurance timelines, determine what exclusions or coverage problems exist, a life insurance claims lawyer can help.
McKennon Law Group PC offers free consultations and can give you the legal guidance or assistance you need when it comes to submitting a timely claim for life insurance claim benefits. Call now to get a free consultation for the answers you need from a life insurance law firm with decades of life insurance experience you can trust.