Learn and Plan | What to know about filing a life insurance death claim
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What to know about filing a life insurance death claim

May 3, 2023, 4:46:30 PM | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Following the loss of a loved one, life insurance benefits can often be an important lifeline for the family left behind. If you’re the beneficiary, it can feel very overwhelming to know what to do about filing a claim and receiving the death benefit. Since the benefits from a policy are not paid out automatically, a beneficiary must file a death claim to receive the payout. Thankfully, the claims process is usually not complicated and can be completed by following some basic steps. Here’s how you can help ensure a smoother life insurance claims process.

Who gets a payout from a life insurance policy?

Part of the life insurance purchasing process is designating one or more beneficiaries. Choosing a beneficiary is an important decision, as this will be the person or organization that will file a claim and receive the death benefit if you pass away. If you have multiple primary beneficiaries, the payout will be distributed equally or based upon a percentage that you determined when you purchased the policy.

Steps to filing a claim

Most insurance companies provide useful resources and a claim packet that will outline all the steps of the claim process and will allow you to file a claim online or through a paper claims process. The basic steps to follow when filing a claim include:

  1. Contact the insurance company or your financial professional: If you need assistance, the insurance company or a financial professional can help explain the claim process and what is required. If you have a copy of the life insurance policy, check the company name and/or agent listed on the paperwork.
  2. Get a copy of the death certificate. Most insurance companies require an original certified death certificate issued by the state in which the deceased passed away, with the cause and manner of death listed. You must obtain a certified copy of the certificate, not a photocopy. The funeral director handling the final arrangements can usually help you in getting the copies that you need.
  3. Complete the claimant’s statement. Each beneficiary must complete and submit a signed claimant’s statement, which is typically included in the claims packet. Most forms ask for the policy number, basic information about the deceased, the claimant’s information, and settlement options, which is how a beneficiary wishes to receive the payout.
  4. Follow special instructions and additional requirements: Depending on the policy and named beneficiaries, other forms or documents may be required. Speaking to an agent or the Claims Department at the insurance company can help determine if additional information is required to complete the claims process.

How to collect a death benefit

When filling out the claimant’s statement form, you will likely see a section that asks how you wish to receive the life insurance payout. Payout options commonly include a lump sum paid all at once or installments paid over time. Lump sum payments give instant access to the life insurance benefit in the form of a check or bank deposit, while installments spread payments out over time. Sometimes you can also choose an interest option where the death benefit is left on deposit to accrue interest, or a life income option where the insurance payout is converted to an annuity and you receive guaranteed payments for the rest of your life.

How long does it take to get a life insurance payout?

After you submit a claim and the insurance company reviews it, a payout is typically issued in a timeframe of 2 weeks to 60 days. Be sure to review everything carefully before submitting since missing paperwork or information on the claim form can slow down the process. After the claim is submitted, the insurer will review the claim form, death certificate, and any additional documentation. You will likely hear from the insurance company if further information is needed or if there is an issue with your claim. The amount of time for life insurance benefits to be paid can be influenced by these factors:

  • The length of time following the death that the claim was filed
  • If all required documentation was included
  • The insured’s cause of death
  • State laws regarding life insurance payouts

Review the claims packet carefully or speak to the insurer directly since each company has different rules and you may have questions about your situation. You can often check the status of your claim online or by calling the company. Many insurance companies recognize how difficult this time can be and want to make the claims process as smooth and simple as possible.

Why would a life insurance claim be denied?

As long as you follow all the steps of the claim process and provide the necessary documentation, life insurance benefits are usually paid out in a timely manner. In the instance a claim is denied, there may have been false information provided on the original application, the insured may have stopped paying their premiums and coverage had ended or the cause of death did not fall within the rules of the policy. If you receive a letter indicating that the claim has been denied, you can contact the insurer to receive further information and next steps.


Paperwork is probably the last thing you want to worry about following the death of a loved one, but the sooner you begin the claims process, the sooner you can receive the benefit. Especially if you need financial assistance to cover final expenses or other costs, you will want to try and get things in order as soon as possible. Life insurance is an incredible gift and the person who chose you as a beneficiary wanted to be sure you were cared for even after he or she was gone. If you need assistance navigating the claims process, reach out to the agent on the policy or the insurance company’s support team who can help ease your worries and ensure you get the benefits you deserve.

To report death and file a claim with Midland National, visit the Life Claims Forms page or call toll-free at 800-733-2524.