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Making a life insurance claim: What happens?

LifeSearch author Katie Crook-Davies
4 min read

by Katie Crook-Davies, Protection Writer

See author bio

Katie works with insurers and distributors to make protection propositions more accessible, pricing more transparent and marketing messages more simple.See author bio

Guide last reviewed 25 Nov 2022

We buy protection insurance for the peace of mind - the financial safety net in case the worst were to happen, but what if the worst did actually happen? What if you were hit by a serious illness or a loved one passed away? Would you know how to make a claim on your critical illness insurance policy or a family member’s life insurance policy? In this guide we take you through the four steps in a typical claims process, telling you everything you need to know in case you ever find yourself faced with this difficult situation. 

Now, it’s probably worth saying here that insurance rarely tops the list of happy conversation topics, and that’s because usually people think insurance never pays out, or that it’s really hard to claim. So it may surprise you to hear that in 2019, the protection insurance industry paid out over 98% of all claims, that’s over £5 billion in total to around 300,000 families [1]! 

So now that the main insurance myth has officially been debunked, let’s dive into the claims process.

Step 1: Find the policy details

Right, first things first, you need to dig up the old insurance policy details. They may have been gathering dust in the family filing cabinet, in which case they’re easy to find, but don’t worry if you’re struggling to track them down, contact your insurance adviser or, if you know the name of the insurer, contact them directly. They’ll be able to provide the policy details and confirm what’s covered. You can also contact the Association of British Insurers if you’re still struggling, they’ll kindly help you track down any old policies.

This process could be a little trickier if you’re claiming on a loved one’s life insurance policy, because you may not know much about their policy, which is why it’s always a good idea to keep your family in the loop with the type of insurance cover you have and where your policy documents are stored, just in case they ever need to make a claim.

Step 2: Contact your protection adviser or insurer

Now that you’ve got the policy details, you can contact your insurer directly, or your protection adviser to make a claim. You’ll be put through to a specialised team and then can either go through the claims process over the phone, or you may opt to have the claims form posted to your home, which you can then fill in, in your own time. 

In order to submit a claim, you’ll need to provide some information. This will be things like the policy number, the name of the person who passed away and their cause of death, as well as your relationship to them. If you’re claiming on your own critical illness insurance or income protection insurance policy, you’ll be asked about your condition and you may need to provide your GP’s contact details so that the insurer can access your medical notes. You can find out more about the types of information you’ll be asked for here

Step 3: Get your documentation together

As well as answering a few questions, you may also need to provide some additional documentation. If you’re claiming on the life insurance policy of a deceased loved one, you’ll need to send your insurer a copy of the death certificate, which shows the cause of death and usually needs to be certified by the funeral company.

If you’re claiming on your own policy, you may be asked to provide your birth certificate, as proof of your age. You may also be asked for your P60 to prove your income, if you’re claiming on an income protection policy.

Step 4: Submit your claim

Once your claim form has been filled in and the insurer has all the required information, your claim can be submitted. So how long does it take to receive a payout from your policy? Well this can vary from between a few days to a couple of months, it really depends on how quickly the insurers receive all of the information they need to assess everything and make a final decision. 

The claims team here at LifeSearch works closely with insurers and regularly communicates with customers to update them at each stage of their claim journey. It can be reassuring to know that you have a team of experts behind you, moving things along and getting you the decision you need as soon as possible.

Step 5: Receive your insurance payout

In the vast majority of cases, 98% of the time in fact, the insurer will be able to issue your policy payout, and in those few cases where a decision is made to decline a payout, your insurance adviser may be able to help. Our claims team will always step in if ever they feel that an insurer’s decision isn’t fair. Thankfully though, they rarely have to do this!

You’re probably wondering about the 2% of claims which don’t get paid? Well most are because people aren’t completely honest when they apply for their protection insurance policy. They may not disclose an existing health condition for example, or perhaps they claim they are non-smokers, when in fact, they’re partial to the occasional cigarette. As always with insurance - honesty is the best policy!

I want to know more…

We’re here to help. Call us on 0800 316 7253 or request a callback from one of our expert protection advisers who will happily answer any questions you have, whether that’s about the claims process, or protection insurance more generally! We look forward to chatting with you soon.


[1] https://www.abi.org.uk/news/news-articles/2020/05/record-98.3-of-protection-claims-paid-out-in-2019/

LifeSearch author Katie Crook-Davies
Katie Crook-Davies Protection Writer
Katie is an independent insurance consultant who is passionate about protection and wants to share that passion with others through engaging marketing content. She hopes that one day people will get as excited about protecting themselves and their loved ones, as she does!
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