One of the basic tasks that follow the loss of a spouse or family member is figuring out what life insurance policies were in place and contacting the insurance company or companies to find out how to file for claims. How long it takes to receive the death benefit varies, but for the most part, insurance companies move quickly.
As a follow-up, what happens if the beneficiary doesn't know about the life insurance policy?
As Kiplinger explains in recent article, “How to Speed Up a Life Insurance Payout,” the more information you have about the life insurance policy, the quicker you can get the payout.
If you have a copy of the life insurance policy and a copy of the death certificate when you file a claim, it will expedite the process. If you have these items available, it can take as few as five business days after filing the claim to receive the payout.
If the beneficiaries don't have any idea that they are coming into money from the life insurance policy, the insurer may track them down, but not always.
The Social Security Death Master File will usually have deaths reported. Some state laws also require insurers to compare their files against those records and make contact with the beneficiaries when a death is reported. Some insurers will do this voluntarily.
If you believe the deceased had a life insurance policy but don't know the insurer, you might review their financial records and check for canceled checks, and contact any insurers or agents mentioned.
Another way to find out if there was a policy, is to contact the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s policy locator service, which will inquire of numerous life insurance companies and have them check their own records for policies. One more source to check with, is the American Council of Life Insurers.
Reference: Kiplinger (June 7, 2017) “How to Speed Up a Life Insurance Payout”