How to File a Life Insurance Claim in South Carolina
Life insurance ensures that you can replace lost income after the death of a wage earner. It prevents your beneficiaries from inheriting significant debt when you pass, allowing them to keep assets instead of selling them to pay bills or death taxes. But insurance companies are not obligated to tell you if you’re a beneficiary or inform you how to file a life insurance claim. Because they don’t go out of their way to help you, you will need to be proactive to get paid. If you believe you qualify to make a life insurance claim, but don’t know the process, read on.
When Can You Make a Claim on Life Insurance?
You can make a claim on life insurance as soon as the policyholder passes away and you have a copy of the death certificate. Most beneficiaries want to file a claim as quickly as possible, but generally, there is no deadline to file a claim. This means that if you were unaware of the policy until much later, you can still receive your payment many years after the death, as long as the policy was active at the time of death.
If you aren’t sure whether your loved one had a life insurance policy, try reviewing their bank accounts to see if they paid premiums to a life insurance company. You can also investigate their records or safe deposit box for any indication they held a policy. Tax records could also show information about a life insurance policy.
If you believe your loved one had a policy but cannot find the name of the insurance company, the South Carolina Department of Insurance helps people find lost insurance policies. The website offers multiple sources to assist you in locating a policy and has tips on where to look for policy information.
How Do You File a Claim for Life Insurance?
Making a life insurance claim begins with knowing your loved one has a life insurance policy and the insurance company that holds it. Don’t worry about not knowing the policy number. If you know the company’s name, the policy number can be looked up for you. The next step is completing the company’s paperwork.
Many life insurance companies allow you to download or print claim forms online. With other insurers, you may need to call their helpline to start the claims process or request a claims packet by mail.
After you file your claim, the time the company will take to review your claim depends on the insurer. Generally, it should only take five to seven business days for the company to respond to your claim.
What Information Do I Need to Fill Out a Claim?
The life insurance policy claim forms will certainly ask for basic identifiable information, like your full name, address, date of birth, and social security number. You’ll need to identify your relationship with the policyholder and the method of payment you prefer. Additionally, you will likely need the following:
- Your loved one’s name, date of birth, date of death, cause of death, and state of residence;
- Their social security number or the policy number on the life insurance policy;
- An original certified death certificate.
If you don’t have a copy of the death certificate, check with the funeral home or the state’s vital statistics office to receive a copy. If your loved one died in an accident, there may be other documents you need to collect, like a copy of an autopsy, toxicology, or police report. These documents help prevent life insurance fraud and ensure payments go to the right people.
After completing the paperwork, submit your claim as directed on the form. If you’re unsure where to submit the claim, call the insurance company for more directions. With the amount of sensitive information on the form, be sure you’re sending it to the right place.
Insurers can pay out life insurance claims within days or weeks of processing a complete claims form. However, there are some circumstances where the payout might be delayed. For example, you might encounter a delay if the policyholder died within two years of taking out the policy or if there’s any question about the cause of death. When a claim is delayed, it is known as the “contestability period.” This period gives insurers the right to investigate the claim.
Do You Need Help with the Life Insurance Claim Process?
Learning how to make a life insurance claim during an already stressful and emotionally difficult time is burdensome. When your life insurance claim is denied, the Peace Law Firm can help. John Peace’s experience as a former insurance company employee gives him a nuanced understanding of insurance-related issues. For over 15 years, he has passionately represented individuals like you. To request a consultation, please call 864-298-0500.