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Alumni News

Canada Life: Making a Life Insurance Claim

September 17, 2014

Whether or not you have had that important conversation, once you have determined that there is insurance in place and know which company or companies the insurance is with, you will need to contact them to start the claims process. It is important to make this contact promptly as there is often a timeframe in which a claim must be made. For many insurance policies you have one year from the date of death to make a claim.

You will be asked to provide some general information such as the address, phone number and date of birth of the deceased to ensure that they are handling the right file. You may also be asked to identify yourself plus provide your contact information and your legal relationship to the deceased. You may also need to provide brief details such as the cause and date of your loved one’s passing.

Once the claim has been started at the insurance company, it will usually be assigned to a Case Manager. If you are the beneficiary of the insurance coverage, the Case Manager will be able to communicate with you directly about the claim. For those who don’t know, the beneficiary is the individual who has been chosen by the person who purchased the insurance coverage to receive the money. If you are not the beneficiary or the executor of the estate, details on the amount of the policy or who the beneficiary is generally will not be released to you for privacy reasons.

It is possible that the person who took out coverage will have designated multiple beneficiaries. If there is more than one beneficiary there will generally be some instructions on file on how the money is to be divided. In those instances where the beneficiary or beneficiaries are minors, the insurance company will need a letter from a lawyer involved in the estate, or from an appointed trustee for the minors, advising who the insurer can communicate with.

Once you have established contact, the insurer will send out a claim form. The claim form typically asks for further details surrounding the individual’s death so that the claim may be quickly evaluated. You may be asked to provide other proof of death which could include one or more of the following:

• The death certificate issued by the province
• The funeral director’s certificate
• A coroner’s report
• A police report

Depending on the circumstances, the insurance company may also need information from the individual’s family doctor or the doctor in attendance when the person died. The insurance company will likely follow up with the doctor(s) directly although they may need to ask the beneficiary or the person they are authorized to speak to for the physician’s contact information.

Typically it takes 30 to 60 days to evaluate a claim once all the necessary documents are received. Any money payable will be sent to the beneficiary or beneficiaries that the insured had designated. Money paid directly to a beneficiary is usually tax free. Sometimes there is no specific beneficiary named on an insurance policy. In those cases, the money from the life insurance policy will go to the estate of the individual and is then subject to probate fees.

It is important to note that not all claims will be approved. This can happen because of a specific exclusion in the policy, an exclusionary period that is laid out in the policy or a misrepresentation of personal or medical facts. If the claim is denied, the insurance company will advise the beneficiary in writing of the reason for the denial. If this does happen and you wish to appeal the decision, you can submit your request in writing and provide further supporting documentation which may clear the matter up.

In addition to submitting the claim it is important to ensure the premiums for the policy are no longer being paid. Any premiums paid for coverage after the date of death will be returned. Most insurance companies will review this as part of their claims process but you may want to make sure this is done.

Finally, most insurance companies will automatically search their records to see if they have any additional policies in place for the deceased individual. This may be something you want to question when you are making the initial claim just to make sure.

Although it may not be an easy conversation to have, it is better to know what to expect beforehand. Since most of us need life insurance, Sheridan College Alumni Office has arranged for Canada Life to provide term life insurance to its alumni at low rates. If you have any questions, please contact Canada Life by visiting them online or by calling them at 1-800-387-0649.