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Life Insurance Basics

What you need to know about filing a life insurance claim

Because filing a life insurance claim comes at a difficult time, this article offers some key steps to follow to get through the process.

When a loved one dies, a life insurance policy can help families by providing them with the immediate financial resources to pay for things such as medical and funeral bills, mortgage payments, educational costs, and everyday living expenses. But before the death benefits of a life policy can be dispersed, a life insurance claim must be filed. Here's what you need to know:

  • Notify the insurance agent or company that the policyholder has died. The agent or a company representative can help you navigate the insurance claim process. Or, if the life insurance policy was issued through an employer, ask them to notify the company for you to begin the claims process.
  • Have the policy handy to help expedite the process. While most life insurance companies can assist you in finding the policy of your loved one, having a copy of the actual policy and the policy number can help them quickly locate the correct policy. It's also a good way to confirm the actual death benefit and any other policy riders that may apply - such as an accidental death benefit rider. Keep in mind that this initial step is only to open or establish a life insurance claim, and that you'll most likely be required to complete a claim form and secure a certified copy of the death certificate.
  • If you don't have a copy of the policy, have no policy number, and are unsure as to the name of the life insurance company that issued the policy, check with your state's insurance department, as well as their unclaimed property office. You can find the required contact info for your state's insurance department at the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's website. You can also search for unclaimed property (which includes life insurance claims) in any state on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrator's website.
  • Under normal circumstances, you shouldn't have long to wait once the claim process has started and all the required documentation has been received. However, there may be a delay if the life insurance policy is contested, but this typically only occurs if there is a clear reason to believe that fraud or certain types of misrepresentation or misstatements are made on the original application.

Please note, this article is only a general overview of actions commonly undertaken to initiate a life insurance claim. Claims requirements and procedures may vary among carriers. For more information on the many benefits of life insurance, as well as how to locate a missing life insurance policy, visit the Protective Learning Center.



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All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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