How to Collect on a Life Insurance Policy: Reader Question

I found a paper in my Dad's file cabinet. It's a policy change form. It is a life insurance policy on my Dad. He died in 2009. I want to know how to collect this. Karen L., US


Thank you for your question. We are sorry for your loss.

If you are the beneficiary of the policy, or have any reason to believe that you have the right to collect on your Dad's policy, you may follow the steps outlined below. If you do not have a right to collect, you may want to at least get the ball rolling for the true beneficiary.

1. If you already have the insurance papers, the first thing you will want to do is contact the insurance company holding the policy. The name and contact information should be on the paperwork. Let the company know that the policy holder has passed away.

2. Get a copy of your Dad's death certificate. You will need to provide a copy of it to the insurance company. If you do not already have a copy of the death certificate, you may obtain one through the Office of Vital Records in your particular state.

3. Follow the insurance company's claims process: their representative will walk you through it. Answer all questions quickly and honestly; this will help the process run smoothly and quickly.

Know that the insurance company will need to investigate the death as some causes, such as suicide, may render the policy null and void. Usually this investigation consists of a quick review of the death certificate, as well as the autopsy report, if an autopsy was done.

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, it is always best to make a claim as soon as possible. In your case, it seems that you were unaware of the policy, so the delay could not be helped.

That is a common issue with life insurance policies; beneficiaries who were unaware that the policy even existed. Millions of dollars in life insurance money goes unclaimed each year. After a period of time, anywhere from two to seven years (depending on the state), the insurance company will turn the money over to the state's unclaimed property divisions. You may find that this has happened with your Dad's policy. If so, the insurance company should be provide the contact information for the appropriate state department.

If you have life insurance for yourself, it may be wise to notify your beneficiaries, if you have not already done so. It would be a shame to pay the premium on a policy for years and have the money lost because your loved ones knew nothing about the policy.


This article is approved for informational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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Aug 29, 2013
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The life ins. co said they can't find bene.papers
by: Anonymous

My mother just passed away Aug. 25th, she had life insurance just under $50,000. I am her daughter & she had me down as the beneficiary. She had all her paper work completed. The life ins. co. said she did not list a beneficiary. I know better. They said they may have misplaced her beneficiary form. I know she listed me as beneficiary. I have myself & 2 of my aunts heard the conversation on the phone where the life ins. co. said they received her beneficiary form & was verifying my name the spelling of my name etc. Please help me I don't know what to do. It is them against me. I just came across a letter my mother wrote me in her personal papers stating I better buy a mobile home with the money. Please help me & my children. I have no money for an attorney.

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