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How Long Does A Life Insurance Claim Take?

Experiencing an event that causes a life insurance payout is a stressful and challenging scenario. You may wonder how long it takes to receive your life insurance check. Depending on your situation and life insurance company, it can take ten days to several months to get your check for yourself or additional beneficiaries. There are several factors this article will discuss to shed more light on the life insurance payout process, as well as steps you can take to expedite the process.

Key takeaways:

How long does it take for a beneficiary to receive money from life insurance?

A beneficiary is simply the legal term for someone eligible for the interest in the life insurance policy. In other words, the beneficiary is the person who will receive the check or part of it.

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Beneficiaries won’t have to worry about losing their benefits if they claim proceeds from a life insurance policy if a long period has passed. As long as the policyholder was up to date on their premium payments and there are no grounds to deny the claim, the beneficiary will typically be eligible to receive their life insurance payout.

Filing a claim

If you are on a life insurance plan as a beneficiary, or if you suspect you might be on a plan, the first step you should take is to call the insurance company to determine if you are, in fact, a beneficiary. Ideally, it is better to do this sooner to take less time to receive the life insurance policy check.

Different companies have different processes for a beneficiary to file a claim. Some companies allow it to be done online, through mail, or by phone. Regardless of the method used, keeping a detailed log and record of interactions with the insurance company is also wise. Most insurance policy payouts and claims go smoothly, however, when the insurance company is not holding up its end of the bargain, having records of your interactions will be helpful if the issue goes to mediation or litigation.

How long does life insurance claim take?

The insurance company processing time will likely be outside your control. Each insurance company has a caseload it works through and takes different steps to process claims. If your claim is going beyond the average processing time, which is 14 to 60 days, and there are no known issues, you should consider following up with the insurance company to find out why the processing time is longer than usual.

For example, MetLife typically processes a claim 10-30 days after receiving all required documents. Prudential normally takes 10-15 business days after receiving the required documents.

What can delay a life insurance payout?

Navigating the complexities of life insurance payouts can sometimes be a frustrating experience. Delays can arise for various reasons, such as inaccurate documentation, uncertainty regarding beneficiary status, specific clauses within the policy, or even the insurance company's internal processing times. Understanding these potential pitfalls can empower individuals to take proactive steps to minimize delays and ensure a smoother claims process.

Inaccurate documents

One of the primary but most easily remediable barriers to getting a prompt life insurance payment is documentation. Inaccurate or unfinished documents can easily stall the payout process. Each back and forth-between beneficiaries and the insurance company can add days or weeks to the process if either party is taking the time to revise documents or locate missing information. Fortunately, this can be remedied partly by maintaining accurate information and storing that information in a secure location.

Unascertained or uncertain beneficiaries

Another cause for delay may arise when the beneficiary status is uncertain. This can be linked to inaccurate documents or a failure to communicate information between the decedent and potential beneficiaries.

A free service is provided by the National Association of Life Insurance Commissioners, which provides individuals with information regarding their beneficiary status as long as the parent company is within their database. This is a possible solution you could use if you have had a challenging time trying to determine beneficiary status through other means. Be prepared to provide your personal information and the decedent's date of birth, death, and social security number.

Contestability clause

Another factor that could cause extensive delays in a payout comes from a contestability clause.

This is common in almost all life insurance policies and typically extends up to two years. The basic principle of this clause is that it allows an insurance company to contest a payout if the policyholder dies within the period described in the clause.

While this can be a concerning clause to overcome, it does not mean there will be an immediate denial of the claim, however, it will extend the time the claim is processed. The time extension largely depends on the facts and context surrounding the policy and the decedent. This clause will allow the company to question further the decedent’s cause of death, preexisting health conditions, and the health disclosures (or lack thereof) provided to the company.

How long does it take to receive life insurance death benefits?

Numerous variables may affect when a beneficiary will receive a payout from a life insurance policy. Claim processing procedures and timelines vary between insurance companies, and the policy type may also have an impact. It can take some time to gather all the required paperwork, such as the death certificate and insurance records, and the procedure may be delayed if additional research is needed into the cause of the death. Legal complications such as a contested will or fiscal difficulties like unpaid loans against the policy may also delay the payout. The beneficiary's promptness in providing the necessary information, as well as state regulations, may have an impact on the timeline.

The process might become complicated by probate if the policy is payable to the estate rather than a specific beneficiary, which would delay the payout significantly. Beneficiaries should be ready to navigate these complexities because while the typical range may be between ten days and a few months, the actual time can vary significantly based on these factors.

How to promptly receive life insurance death benefits

There are several steps you can take that will allow you to expedite the process. Inevitably, some things are out of your control however, you may perform specific actions to mitigate the time it takes to receive a life insurance payout.

  1. Stay organized. As previously described, one of the main hurdles in getting a timely life insurance payout is due to inaccurate or disorganized documents. It will benefit you to update documents and ensure accurate information regularly. For example, if the decedent took out their life insurance policy 15 years ago, you certainly don’t want to assume that everything in the required documentation is still accurate. A lot can change in that amount of time.
  2. Be prompt and detail-oriented. Following up with insurance company documents or information requests quickly will help you. If there are delays in providing necessary information to the company, this will likely extend how long it will take to get a life insurance check. It will also help to pay close attention to detail, the insurance company certainly will, and if there are discrepancies, this will likely extend the processing time for your claim.
  3. Get professional assistance. There is never anything wrong with asking for help, especially when it involves complicated and paperwork-heavy situations like handling a life insurance claim. Professional help can give you peace of mind that someone with experience is handling your case, and there will be a smaller likelihood of error. Additionally, if the insurance company is acting in bad faith in withholding life insurance payouts to beneficiaries, a professional can likely help you navigate that challenge more effectively.

If you can follow the steps above and also avoid the complications that arise from disorganized or incorrect documents, you can expect to receive life insurance money between ten days and two months.


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