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What is the time limit for claiming life insurance benefits?

Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Tombstone Celtic CrossThe time limit for claiming life insurance benefits is different with every policy. It depends on the situation, the terms of the contract and the insurance company. The specifics are explained below. Also, be sure to enter your zip above if you want to find the best life insurance rates!

Laws of Life Insurance

The loss of a loved one can throw your whole world into a place of sadness and grief. Everyone experiences the grieving process differently. For some, it is a short period of time. For others, the grief can last years. After a time of mourning, you will have to summon great inner strength and pick yourself up.

You will want to keep on going, as your lost loved one would certainly have wanted you to continue onward. While getting your affairs in order, you may come across a life insurance policy that you did not even know the deceased had.

In some cases, there is no time limit at all for claiming benefits. However, guidelines from policies and certain states do have their own sets of rules. For instance, some states in America have laws in effect to limit the time you can make a claim to seven years or less.

This law prevents the scenario of unclaimed money sitting and collecting dust. If no one claims this money, it will be sent as profit to the state. Some states do not have these rules in place, but the policy itself may have had particulars addressing this scenario. This is why it’s imperative that policyholders read the contract carefully.

Growing Interest and Expiration Dates

Other states and companies that do not have these rules in effect may allow the life insurance policy to collect interest and grow until it is claimed by a relative. Your long lost cousin Erwin may have only left you a small sum, but if this sum remains unclaimed for some time, then the interest may surpass the policy amount—especially if there is no time limit to collect.

Even if there is a time limit, how would a life insurance company know the date of death for a policy holder? Often times an insurance company does not know a policyholder is deceased until the payments for the premiums suddenly stop. In most instances, this is when a notice will go off in the system, and the next of kin will be notified or sought out. Of course, a death certificate is usually required to collect.

What about your particular state and policy? The best place to get a direct factual answer would be to contact the insurance company on your own. What often happens is that you are asked to produce the death certificate for the deceased as well as the certificate of the treating physician. You will also need the claim form as well as all forms of proper identification for yourself. The insurance company needs this documentation long before you start collecting.

At this point, the company should give you the information you need and help to get you started with the claims process. This usually goes very smoothly and quickly.

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What if Your Life Insurance Claim is Rejected?

Unfortunately, there can be some bumps in the road on the way to getting money from a life insurance policy. There may be a problem collecting on a policy if an investigation has to be done on your case. If there were suspicious circumstances involved in your loved ones death, this may be cause for an investigation—especially if the suspicion involves the beneficiary.

If your loved one was a smoker but claimed they did not smoke on the policy, or they claimed to be younger than their birth certificate states, then this could slow the process down. There might also be cause for suspicion in cases where the policy is less than three years old.

An investigation will slow down the claims process. Don’t fret though. In most cases, there is a reasonable answer to these circumstances. An investigation only means that there will be a delay in receiving your benefits, not a denial. In the meantime, the value of the policy will still be receiving interest.

If for some reason your claim is denied, there are steps you can take. First, contact the company to find out the details as to why the claim was rejected. Obviously, this is a stressful time in your life, so try your best to remain calm and get the facts before getting upset. If necessary, ask a relative to speak on behalf of you, after the insurance spokesperson verifies your identity.

A denial of a claim is by no means the final word on the matter. Start by getting all the information for the appeals process, as every life insurance provider will have different guidelines. Get all necessary documents together and then submit them to the company’s appeals department. If you believe you have a legitimate claim, but it is denied, then you may wish to speak to an attorney. You can also turn the case over to the state’s insurance commissioner.

Fortunately, most insurance claims have a long time limit for making claims, and these claims are paid quickly. Contact the life insurance company to find out the details of their particular policies. If you are currently looking for a good life insurance policy for your loved ones, then use our free life insurance quote tool to compare rates. Just enter your zip to start!

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