Collecting Life Insurance Benefits Several Years

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Oct 3, 2012

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In 1993 I was made beneficiary of a prepaid life insurance policy. Two years later the policy owner died and I had moved and forgot all about it. How do I find out if I am entitled to the payout of the policy after all these years?

Your first step is to contact the insurance company and get a claim form and file it with a certified copy of the death certificate.

Even though substantial time has lapsed, you’ll get the policy proceeds if the policy was in force at date of death, assuming the insured was truthful on the application. Usually you’ll also get interest from date of death.

The key issue will be whether the insured had made any material misstatement about his health on the policy application. If an insured dies within 2 years of the date the policy was issued the policy is subject to challange and “contest” by the company based on any misstatements. Also, if the insured committed suicide within 2 years that will be an issue, although the laws vary from state to state.

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