How to Speed Up a Life Insurance Payout

If you have the policy and death certificate when you file a claim, it may take as few as five business days to receive a check.

(Image credit: zimmytws)

Question: How long does it usually take after a person dies for a life insurance company to pay out the death benefit? What happens if the beneficiary doesn't know about the policy?

Answer: The more information you have about the life insurance (opens in new tab) policy, the faster you can receive the payout. "Having the policy and death certificate when filing a claim expedites the process," says Jack Dolan, spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers (opens in new tab), a trade organization of life insurance companies. In that case, it can take as few as five business days after filing the claim to receive the payout.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.