The answer to your most frequently asked question: How do my loved ones get the life insurance payout if I die?
We talk to a lot of people about life insurance. And a question we get a lot is, how does the death benefit work (aka how much life insurance you have, your coverage amount)? And that’s a great question! Sometimes we spend so much time talking about why life insurance is important and not so much on how it works when it’s needed.
Talk to Your Beneficiaries
First things first, you have to tell your beneficiaries about your policy.
What’s the purpose of a life insurance policy? To provide financial protection for your loved ones — your beneficiaries — after you’re gone.
Life insurance is unique because often the person who purchases the policy is the insured (the person whose life is covered with the policy). And the insured doesn’t file a claim (because, well, they died). Instead a beneficiary or informant files the claim.
If you’re the insured and policyholder, make sure your beneficiary is aware of your life insurance policy. Even just the name of the insurance company is helpful, but you should try to give them more information, like your policy number and how to contact Bestow. You should also make sure we (or whoever your services the policy) have your beneficiary’s current contact information.
If you’re the beneficiary, keep this information somewhere safe. You’ll need to save this information for the next decade or more!
In this next section, “you” refers to the beneficiary, not the insured, though they’ll find this information just as useful.
How to Start the Claims Process
A note before we begin this next part: Bestow is an insurance agency, so all claims are processed by our insurance partner North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®. Our Customer Care Advisors will be there to connect you with our partner and help you along the way. Learn more about filing a claim with Bestow.
While life insurance is meant to provide financial protection for loved ones, it doesn’t make the grief hurt any less. We understand that, and our Customer Care Advisors are here to help make this process go as smoothly as possible.
You, the beneficiary, do not need to call us to start the claims process. A friend or family member can jump in to help — this person is called the notifier, or informant.
We’ll need the following information to get started.
Insured Person’s Information
Name, policy number, Social Security Number, date of death
Name, gender, Social Security Number, address, date of birth, marital status, relationship to insured, contact info (phone), best time to call
Notifier (if applicable)
Name, gender, relationship to insured, date of birth, Social Security Number, address, contact info (phone), relationship to beneficiary
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this information right away. You don’t have a deadline to file a claim after the insured’s passing, though we’d like to help you receive your death benefit as soon as we can.
Next Step: Documents
Once you call Bestow and you’re connected with our insurance partner, you’ll be sent a claimant’s packet. This will include some paperwork that needs to be filled out, signed, and returned in order to process your claim. Please allow 10 calendar days for the review of any documents submitted for processing.
This asks basic information about the beneficiary including contact information and preferred method of receiving the death benefit, like check or direct deposit. Each beneficiary must fill this out.
Additional requirements may be needed dependent on the type of beneficiary, like a trust or estate. If the beneficiary has an attorney-in-fact signing the Claimant’s Statement form, a Certificate of Power of Attorney form is required.
A certified death certificate with a raised seal issued by the state in which the insured passed away is required to file a claim. The cause and manner of death should be listed on the original certified death certificate.
The funeral home, cremation organization, or other person or organization in charge of the remains will prepare and file the death certificate (according to Nolo). Death certificates are typically filed within 3 to 10 days, depending on the state.
If the funeral home or mortuary did not provide you with a certified death certificate, you can order one from your county or state vital records office. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a list vital records offices by state right here.
Paperwork Has Been Submitted. Now What?
Once the claim is submitted, the insurance company will review everything and make sure there aren’t any red flags. (Watch enough true crime documentaries and you’ll see why.)
Our partner’s processing goal is 10 calendar days after submitting the final requirements for the claim, though processing time may be extended if additional review or documentation is required. You can learn more about North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®’s claims process on their website.
Once approved, you’ll receive the payout via the payment method selected in your claims packet.
We’re Here to Help
While our insurance partner processes the claim, our team will be helping you along the way, providing status updates and following up to make sure everything is going as smoothly as possible. Even if you just need someone to lend an ear, we’ll be here for you.