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Now That I’ve Found You…

Right, then, you’ve turned up that policy.  The search is over, the money’s on its way!

Well, not exactly.  In theory, it all should be pretty straightforward: policy, death certificate, check.

It is a bit more tricky than that, though, and often this challenge is coming at a particularly difficult time.  Maybe these suggestions will help:

  • Collect and organize your paperwork: The company that issued the policy may have changed its name over the years, merged with another company or even sold off a block of policies to another company.  This may make it harder for you to track them down.  Check the policy itself for the complete legal name of the insurance company.  Look for a mailing address and phone number; try to determine in which state the policy was purchased, and when.  Then contact that state’s insurance department and see if they can help you track down the company.
  • You will need an official copy of the death certificate.  A photocopy will not be accepted; the certificate must be a state sealed copy.  The insurance company will then check the case number in the state system to confirm the death.  Contact the deceased’s state department of health for more information about obtaining official paperwork. Be sure to keep copies of everything you send to the insurance company in case paperwork gets lost or goes astray.
  • Expect an insurance adjuster: As a beneficiary, especially if large sums are involved, be prepared for an insurance adjuster to have some questions.  Fraud is a serious problem in the industry, so try not to take any of this personally.  Cooperate and be honest.
  • It should take about 10 days once the investigation is over: You should hear about the claim in about ten days; keep in contact with the company during this time so you know how the process is going.
  • Claims are paid in a majority of cases: But sometimes the companies refuse to pay a claim.  Lying on the application is the number one reason – often about smoking or drug use.  This is not anything that you, the potential beneficiary, had control over, but it happens.  The insurance company can also refuse to pay a claim if there is suspicion that the beneficiary was the cause of death.
  • If the insurance company will not pay the claim: If they won’t pay and you are certain they are in the wrong, get an attorney.  This is not a police matter; you will sue them in civil court.
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