How to claim life insurance

How to claim life insurance

author: Bryony Pearce

By Bryony Pearce

Nobody wants to make a life insurance claim, however, sadly, from time-to-time it’s unavoidable; we’re here to guide you through it step-by-step.


The subject of life insurance is never a nice one. But, if the worst should happen, it’s important to know what to expect, what to do, and what your rights are - so that’s exactly what we’re about to share with you.

Making a claim: a step-by-step guide

Step 1: contact the provider

First things first, call the life insurance company and let them know you’re making a claim. Ideally, try and have the policy number to hand, if you don’t though, still give them a call with all the details you do know.

If you don’t have the policy number and you don’t know who the provider is, get in touch with the Association of British Insurers - they’ll be able to help you track it down.

Step 2: gather the paperwork

Once you’ve let the provider know you’re making a claim, they’ll ask you to complete a form and send it back along with a number of other documents - the most important being the death certificate. This will need to be an original version so it might be worth requesting a handful of copies from the funeral company.

Step 3: complete the form - correctly

Any mistakes in your form can slow the claim process down because the company in question will have to return it to you. To avoid any unnecessary delays, when filling out the form, take your time, make sure you understand everything, and, if you don’t, don’t be afraid to give the insurer a call and ask for help.

Step 4: receive your payout

If the insurer’s happy with your form and your documents, all that’s left is for them to payout. This part of the process should only take a few days, or a few weeks at the absolute most.

Who can claim life insurance?

This will depend on whether the policy was or wasn’t written in trust. If it was written in trust the insurer will payout - directly - to whoever is named as the beneficiary in the policy document.

If the policy wasn’t written in trust though, the payout will go to the executors of the deceased’s estate.

How long do you have to claim life insurance?

There’s no time limit to when you have to file a claim by. You can start it a week or so after you’ve lost your loved one, or you can leave it until a month or two later if you need a little more time.

Making a life insurance claim is an understandably distressing time, but all insurers have staff on their lines who’re trained to be sympathetic and understanding to everyone’s situation, to hopefully make the ordeal slightly less stressful.

How long does a life insurance company have to pay a claim?

Usually, life insurance claims are paid within a few days to one month. There are a few things that could delay your payout though, like:

-     Incomplete or incorrect forms or supporting documents; and

-     If, for example, the deceased passed away from lung cancer but told the insurer they didn’t smoke. In this case, the claim would have to be investigated which could slow things down, or worst case, result in no payout at all.

Do life insurance companies contact beneficiaries?

Life insurance companies don’t go out of their way to track down beneficiaries, because they won’t know if an insured person has passed. It’s the deceased’s family members’ responsibility to get in touch with the insurer and let them know of the passing.

Once the claim has been lodged, a beneficiary might be contacted if something is wrong with the form or paperwork they’ve sent in.

Do beneficiaries pay tax on life insurance?

Nope, you don’t need to pay income and capital gains tax on life insurance payouts. However, if the payout’s classed as part of their estate, there’s a chance you could have to pay inheritance tax on it. There is an easy way to sidestep this though; just make sure the policy’s written in trust so it’s not left as part of the estate when they pass.

Can life insurance claims be rejected?

Yes, they can. Some of the most common reasons behind rejected life insurance claims are:

1. The policyholder didn’t give an accurate or honest account of their or their family’s medical history.

2. The policy had already expired. For example, it was taken out on a 20-year term but the policyholder passed 22 years after they signed for it.

3. Insufficient information. Insurers need certain details and documents to process a claim, if you can’t supply them with everything they need, they might turn down your claim.

If you’ve made a claim and it’s been rejected, give the insurer a call and ask why. If you’ve got a reason to believe their reason is unfair, contact the Financial Ombudsman - they may be able to help you dispute it.

For more advice on all things life insurance, here are some other, related blogs you might find useful:

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Bryony Pearce

By Bryony Pearce

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