Filing an insurance claim

If your loved one had a life insurance policy and you're a beneficiary, you will want to begin the claim process as soon as possible; the benefit payout will help you manage immediate financial needs.

Life insurance may be issued as an individual policy through an agent or as a group policy through an employer, association or financial institution.

Each insurer will have slightly different processes for filing a life insurance claim, but there are some common elements. 

Notify the insurance company of a claim

  • Individual insurance: If you know the insured's agent or financial advisor, start by contacting them. They will provide direction on next steps. If you do not have this information but you have policy information, contact the insurance company listed on the policy and inform them of the death.
  • Group insurance: Contact the employer or the institution through which the policy was issued to learn what information is needed. An employer will also be able to review with you what other benefits your loved one may have had. You may also contact the insurance company directly. 

Obtain a death certificate

Before paying a life insurance claim, insurance companies will require this document - most often an original version - as proof of death.

Because these documents can be expensive to obtain, request to have the document returned to you so you can use it for other purposes. 

Submit verification of valid coverage

When notified of a death, the insurance company needs to verify whether or not the deceased had valid life insurance coverage.

A policy or certificate of insurance could provide such proof, but if you have not found a document there are other sources to check:

  • An employer or the insurance company if the coverage was group life insurance
  • The insurance company if the coverage was individual life insurance
  • A bank or other lending institution if the coverage was mortgage or credit insurance 

Submit proof of coverage

In the case of group life insurance coverage, this proof is held by the employer, association or financial institution.

Complete the claim form

If you are a beneficiary, you'll be asked to fill out a form with your information and to sign the form. This allows the insurance company to release payment to you.


The national median cost of a funeral for calendar year 2012 was $7,045. If a vault is included, something that is typically required by a cemetery, the median cost is $8,343.


DOFU 12-2016