People take out life insurance to protect their loved ones in case they die. Unlike other kinds of insurance, this means it won’t be you claiming on the policy when the times comes, but someone else – usually whoever’s dealing with the financial admin in the aftermath of your death.

There’s a couple of simple steps you can take to make the process as easy as possible for your family. The most obvious one is making sure they know about your life insurance policy. Another is to let them know where your documents are kept, so they’re easy to find when needed. Your family will still be able to trace your life insurance policy without this, but it might speed the process up if they do.

How to claim on a life insurance policy

Anyone can make a claim on your life insurance, but it’s usually done by whoever’s dealing with financial matters after you die. To start the claim, they’ll simply need to call the insurer and inform them of your death. They may also be able to start this process online. At this stage, the insurer may ask for:

  • Your name
  • The cause of death
  • Your policy number
  • Their relationship to you

As part of the claims process, whoever’s making the claim will need to provide the insurer with the following documents:

  • Your death certificate
  • A policy document
  • A completed claim form

There's no time limit on when a claim needs to be made by. Your family can start the process as soon as possible after you die, or whenever they're ready.

What if they can’t find the policy documents?

It’s not uncommon – especially as the life insurance policy might’ve been bought many years or even decades ago. If your family can’t find the paperwork, checking your bank statements to find your monthly insurance payments should be the next port of call. They’ll then be able to phone the relevant insurer to trace the policy and start the claim.

Who gets the money?

The money itself will go to your estate or your nominated person, depending on whether or not you placed your life insurance into trust. If you put your life insurance into trust and your nominated person has also died, it will go to your estate.

Will it definitely pay out?

The vast majority of life insurance claims are paid out. Your life insurance policy should pay out, so long as:

  • You’re still insured when you die – i.e. the policy hasn’t expired
  • You were honest about your health and lifestyle when you applied
  • You’ve kept up with paying your monthly premiums

The money is usually received within days or weeks of a valid claim being processed. Read more about when life insurance does (and doesn’t) pay out.

What if it was a joint policy?

Joint life insurance policies only pay out for the first death. If yours is the first death: a claim can be made, your surviving partner will receive the lump sum payout, and the policy will end.

Beyond this, the same rules apply as when making any life insurance claim. It’ll only pay out if you’re still insured when you die, you were honest about your health when you applied, and you’ve kept up with your monthly premiums.

Think you need life insurance? Let's work out what you need, starting with your age:
  • Anyone can claim on your life insurance policy
  • The claim needs to be made directly with your insurer
  • Your death certificate, a policy document and a completed claim form will need to be provided during the claims process
  • If the claim is valid, the money will be paid to your estate or, if your life insurance is in trust, to your nominated person(s)
What is life insurance?
An insurance policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum to your partner or family if you die. It’s designed to make sure your loved ones would be financially secure without you and your income.
Who needs life insurance?
Anyone who has financial dependents. In other words: other people who rely on your income. If you have a partner or children who’d be financially affected by you dying, you should consider having some life insurance in place.
How much does life insurance cost?
Life insurance is often very affordable, but the cost will be different per person. This is because it depends on the cover you buy and how much of a risk you are to insure (based on your age, health and lifestyle). Generally speaking, it's cheapest when you’re young, fit and healthy.
Does life insurance always pay out?
Life insurance will pay out if you die while you’re insured and you were honest about your health when you applied. It won’t pay out if you die after your policy runs out or you cancel it – and might not if you meet an exclusion (e.g. many insurers exclude death by suicide within the first year).
Is it easy to claim?
Claiming on a life insurance policy is straightforward – your partner or family simply claim directly with your insurance company. Making sure they know about your policy and have the details in case the worst happens can be helpful.