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How to File a Claim for Insurance

Assuming that the whole life insurance policy has been in force for more than two years and the cause of death is not up for debate, here is some advice for filing your claim.

First, can you lay your hands on the policy? Many people store important documents in a safe deposit box, not realizing that it may be temporarily sealed after their death. Ideally, your loved one has left clear instructions on where to find everything after his or her death. But if you cannot locate the policy, don't give up. You can send a written inquiry to the Missing Policy Service of the American Council of Life Insurance, 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004-2599. Include a self-addressed business size envelope. Your inquiry will be forwarded to nearly 100 large life insurance companies in an effort to locate the lost policy. You can also try contacting your state insurance department and that of any other state the deceased lived in.

Next, call your insurance broker. He or she knows the system well and isn't beset by grief and will assist you with filling out forms, such as the insurance company's death claim. Your broker can also be an intermediary with the insurance company during a difficult time. If you know who the deceased's agent was, even better, but if you don't you can deal directly with the insurance company. Don't be afraid to ask what procedures to follow and if there's an agent to assist you.

You'll need certified copies of the death certificate and perhaps some other proof of death, such as an obituary notice.

You should be able to obtain one from the funeral director. File it with the claim form and that's that. The next decision will be how you'd like to receive the proceeds-in a lump sum for you to manage, in payments managed by the insurance company, or perhaps held for another beneficiary of your choosing (after your death) from which you draw only the interest.

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