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Life Insurance Claims Submission Process

28 November 2022
7 minute read
Man on his phone

Life changes in the blink of an eye. Unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies, job losses and accidents can throw us into severe financial hardship. Insurance policies can provide financially in a variety of situations, including your family losing your income due to dread disease, disability or death. 

A life insurance policy claim is made when the life assured on the policy passes away.  The pay-out of the sum assured can be used to cover final expenses like medical care and executor fees and replace lost income so your family can cover living expenses. If you have financial dependants, pay-outs can be a lifeline if your income is no longer sufficient to support your family.

Did you know? 1Life Pure Life Cover policies include a Pay now death benefit of R50 000 that pays out in 48 hours to cover the funeral expenses of the life assured.

Save up to 13% on your life insurance premiums if you buy online.

Top tips for a smooth life insurance claims process

When a person with a life insurance policy—also known as a life assured—dies, the insurance company should be notified as soon as possible. This can be done by the policyholder’s next of kin, or the beneficiary.

Your insurance provider’s claims consultants’ will be able to tell you what documents are required in order to process the claims, for example a death certificate.

Provided you, as the policyholder, kept the policy up to date, paid your premiums and were honest upon taking out the policy and while you had it, the life insurance claims process should go smoothly.

Sometimes, families are so distraught in the event of a sudden death of the policyholder that they don’t think about insurance claims, or they don’t even realise that there is a life insurance policy. It’s a good idea to:

  1. Inform your family of your final wishes, and where you keep your financial and insurance documents.
  2. Stipulate how you would like for them to use the money
  3. Explain how to make a life insurance claim, including how to contact your provider.

Top tip: One important consideration that will help your insurer process the claim is naming a beneficiary or beneficiaries and ensuring that their contact details are correct.

How long does it take to receive a life insurance payout?
The time it takes insurers to validate the claim and pay the sum assured for a life insurance policy varies from claim to claim and provider to provider. All life cover providers strive to pay out life insurance policy claims as quickly as possible once all the required documentation is received and the claim is valid. This however normally will take a couple of weeks.

The 1Life insurance claims process

When you file a 1Life life insurance claim after the death of a loved one, you will be assigned a dedicated claims consultant. You can call one of our claim consultants at 0860 10 51 96.

The 1Life consultant will walk you through the claims process and provide you with information on the documents needed to process the claim.

What documents do I have to submit when making a life insurance claim with 1Life Insurance?

Your required submission of documents includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • A completed life insurance policy claim form
  • A certified copy of the deceased's death certificate
  • A certified copy of the deceased's and beneficiaries' identification books
  • Depending on the nature of the claim, medical reports may be required

Your consultant may request additional documents from you in order for 1Life Insurance to properly assess and process the claim. When the claim is approved we will pay out the sum assured to the beneficiaries listed on the policy, ensuring that your wishes of them being well looked after in the event of your death is met.

Finding the right life cover for you

1Life Insurance is a firm favourite in South Africa with many awards to its name. As SA’s #1 Direct Life Insurer for 11 years running* we offer affordable and convenient products for every life stage, including discounted combo life and funeral cover policies. You can buy comprehensive cover online and manage your policies via an online policyholder portal or WhatsApp.

*Based on Swiss Re Reports 2010-2021.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life Insurance or its employees.

We answer your questions about our products and services!

What is a life insurance claim, and when should it be initiated?

A life insurance claim is when a beneficiary claims for the sum assured of an active life insurance policy of the main member and this happens post a main member passing away. It is important to note that claims should be filed within 3 months of a main member passing.

How quickly can a life insurance claim be processed?

A valid life insurance claim can be paid out within 24 business hours, but it is important to note that the process to get to this point can take weeks or months depending on the documentation required and the circumstances surrounding a death of a policyholder. This is why some insurers offer a pay now benefit to assist with immediate expenses such as the funeral while the claim is being processed.

What factors can delay the processing of a life insurance claim?

There are many factors that can delay a life insurance pay-out, some of which are paperwork, i.e. has the beneficiary provided all that is required, or the request for medical documents/history which also takes time depending on the Dr or hospital as well as the circumstances around the death. For example, if it was unnatural i.e. a murder, you would need to consider the documentation required from the South African Police Services. You are also required to get a Death certificate from Home Affairs, but working with a competent undertaker can help fast track this step. These are just some factors that could potentially delay the processing of a life insurance claim. The quickest way to get a claim paid is to be proactive and work with your appointed claims consultant to get all the documents in as soon as possible.

What documents are typically required for a life insurance claim submission?

Some very basic documents you will require are copies of Identity documents of the beneficiary as well as the deceased (or main member) as well as their death notice and death certificate. You will also need to complete a claims form, that will be provided by the insurer, and will detail the initial documents required to accompany the claims form, thereafter there might be a request for more documents.

What steps can be taken to ensure a smooth life insurance claims process?

Steps to take to streamline your claims process is to work with a good undertaker that can provide you with the necessary documentation you are going to need to make a claim. You should also get hold of the main members insurance company and let them know that the policyholder is deceased, this is important as you would not want the policy to lapse due to non-payment, as you delayed notifying relevant parties. It is also important to work with your dedicated claims consultant to complete any forms and to provide all documentation completed as requested. i.e. if it needs to be in triplicate provide it as such. Also make sure that you are reachable and respond to any queries that the insurance company asks, and visa versa. Not providing all documentation clearly and timeously can lead to further delays and investigations. An insurer wants to honour the agreement made with the main assured, to provide for their family when they are gone, so make sure that when you take out a life insurance policy you are honest about all risks and ensure that you notify your insurer throughout the life of the policy should anything change to your risk profile, i.e. you started smoking, so that you are not in breach of any of terms and conditions that are stipulated in the policy documents and schedules.

What happens if the policyholder did not inform their family about the life insurance policy?

It is important that the policyholder advise the beneficiary of the policy. If not, and the policyholder dies, the insurer will not be aware of the death. The beneficiary would not be able to claim the policy proceeds, when it is needed most. 

Can beneficiaries be changed after the life insurance policy is in force?

Yes, you can change your beneficiary after you have started your life policy. You can have multiple beneficiaries on one policy. You will just need to specify a Rand value or a percentage to make up 100% for each beneficiary. The beneficiary of a policy should be someone that will be negatively impacted financially, after you pass such as your children, parents or spouse.

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