Thousands of people world-wide have already died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. For those who have life insurance, in almost all cases, they are covered, and insurance will likely pay out for deaths from COVID-19. There are a few exceptions, according to representatives from life insurance companies and industry organizations.
Traditional life insurance policies, such as whole and term life, likely cover deaths from COVID-19, according to spokespeople from the industry research group LIMRA, State Farm and Farmers New Life (part of Farmers Insurance).
Also see: Is life insurance a good investment?
However, there are a few exceptions. For example, an insurer might deny a claim for a coronavirus death if the policyholder:
- Submitted an inaccurate or incomplete application. Claims can be denied for reasons like not disclosing travel plans or lying about weight or income. If you die within the first two years of coverage, an insurer generally examines the claim and initial application more thoroughly. Still, a company can refuse to pay a claim if false information is found on the application even after the two-year life insurance contestability period ends. When filling out an application, take your time, be truthful and ask questions if you don’t understand what is being asked.
- Didn’t pay insurance premium. If your policy lapses for nonpayment and you die before the policy is reinstated, your beneficiary usually won’t receive a payout. When a premium payment is late, life insurance companies often offer a grace period of 30 or 31 days. Your coverage will continue as long as you pay the insurer during this time. Insurers may extend this grace period during the coronavirus pandemic — some state regulators are requiring it. If you’re having trouble making payments, contact your insurance company before your premium is late. Otherwise, your insurance coverage will end until you apply for reinstatement and your insurer agrees. To qualify for reinstatement, you may need to prove that you aren’t a risk to insure.
- Bought only an accidental death policy. Accidental death and dismemberment insurance, or AD&D, is designed to cover accidents. It doesn’t pay out if you die of illness or disease. Sometimes AD&D coverage is added to a standard life insurance policy as a rider. In that case, the underlying traditional policy would still pay out for a death from COVID-19.
How to file a life insurance claim
After a policyholder dies, the beneficiary will need to file a life insurance claim by following these steps:
- Obtain several copies of the death certificate.
- Contact the policyholder’s agent or the insurance company for claim paperwork.
- Send in the required documents with a certified copy of the death certificate.
After submitting a claim, the beneficiary can generally decide whether to receive payments in a lump sum or installments.
Other life insurance policies
People who are employed when they die may have a group life insurance policy through their company. Usually, the employer will contact the beneficiary upon the policyholder’s death, but you can also use the process above to make a claim if you know the insurance company’s name.
The Social Security Administration may also provide survivor benefits for spouses, minor and disabled children, grandchildren, parents and ex-spouses.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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Kayda Norman is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.