Following a loved one’s untimely death, the last thing you want to have to worry about is shuffling around heaps of insurance paperwork. The days immediately following such a devastating personal blow tend to feel surreal and almost claustrophobic, often impairing your ability to adhere to any time-sensitive details. So, in order to alleviate some of that extra pressure, we’re serving up seven must-know tips to facilitate smooth sailing for your life insurance paperwork. With the below in mind, you’ll be able to get your claim processed so that you can focus on more important things, like tending to your grieving family.
1. Report the claim as soon as possible.
Before you file any insurance paperwork whatsoever, the first step is to let the relevant organizations know that the insured has passed away. For your life insurance company, this action will prompt them to mail over a letter detailing what documentation they need to process your claim. In addition to your life insurance company, be sure to reach out to the Social Security Administration, any credit card companies, other creditors and utility companies to alert them of the death as well.
2. Prove your role as the claim’s beneficiary.
Next, you’ll need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are the beneficiary qualified to resolve the deceased’s affairs and to receive the designated death benefits. To do this, you’ll have to obtain what are called letters testamentary, also known as the letters of administration. Your attorney may be able to acquire these for you, but if you are the executor of the deceased’s will, you should be able to get it from the local courthouse yourself. In any case, this step must be completed before you progress any further.
3. Be aware of any provider-specific requirements.
Because life insurance is an industry overrun with customizations, exceptions and restrictions, it’s essential that you double-check that your insurance company doesn’t have any additional requirements for documentation. These have a tendency to muck up the claims process, and you certainly don’t want anything to stand in the way of timely delivery of your insurance payout. In most cases, you can simply check your insurance company’s website for details. Depending on their offerings, you may even find an authorization form that could speed up your claim’s processing.
4. Obtain all the necessary insurance paperwork.
Naturally, a matter as sensitive and valuable as a life insurance payout is accompanied by a great deal of paperwork. To claim the death benefit, you’ll probably need more documents than you even realize. These principally include the death certificate (we recommend having multiple copies on hand throughout the process), the claim form and the policy document itself. Furthermore, be prepared to obtain other important documents, such as credit reports, tax returns and asset information if the provider deems it relevant to your claim.
5. Anticipate any potential delays and/or issues.
Even if you manage to collect all the necessary insurance paperwork and seemingly have everything in order for your claim, delays can happen. Check if the policy in question is still in the midst of a contestability period – which follows the creation of new policies to guard against fraud – or if any exclusionary clauses may prevent you from receiving your death benefit. In particular, situations involving violent deaths, such as suicide and homicide, can delay or block your claim entirely. Before you spend too much time and effort, know what you’re getting yourself into.
6. Reach out with any questions.
We know the sea of paperwork involved in life insurance can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re highly encouraging you to reach out to your insurance agent with any questions you might have. Everyone’s experience with life insurance paperwork is bound to be different. Such is the nature of the industry, but you shouldn’t ever feel pressured to sign and submit a document without understanding the full extent of its ramifications. Filing your claim and the associated insurance paperwork shouldn’t be a headache. You’re already reeling from the death of a loved one, after all. Let the professionals help with the rest.
7. Remember to protect confidential data.
While you’re dealing with all this confidential information, don’t forget to restrict access as much as possible. These documents could potentially leave you and your deceased loved one vulnerable to identity theft and all manner of fraud if they were to fall into the wrong hands. So, as you collect, complete and file the necessary documentation regarding your death benefit, bear in mind how much is truly at stake and conduct yourself accordingly. It’s simply not worth the price you’d pay to be negligent at any point.
Do you have any tips of your own for how best to prepare for life insurance paperwork? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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