Life Insurance Claims

Want to ensure your life insurance claim goes smoothly? Find out the correct procedure to follow and what documentation is required.

Making a claim is an important process that both policyholders and beneficiaries of a life insurance policy should understand. Whether you are about to make a claim or are making sure that your next of kin is familiar with the claims process, here are some simple steps to remember.


  1. Notify your insurer or your life insurance adviser. This is where your insurer will let you know what types of forms and documentation is required.
  2. Your claim is assessed. Once you provide whats needed, your claim will be assessed. Some insurers will have a dedicated claims assessor to keep you updated and ask for any additional details.
  3. Get to an outcome. You'll either receive a payment or the claim may be disputed e.g. the insurer may not be satisfied with the evidence of your claim.

Note: If you're claim is for an ongoing income protection payment, may need to maintain your policy by updating your insurer with your health status.


Steps to a successful claim

Life Insurance Claims Process Diagram

Key tips for claimants

Making a claim on a life insurance policy is not necessarily a complicated procedure but it can be time consuming if the appropriate steps are not taken. Bear in mind that the claims procedure may differ from one provider to the other. However, you can manage this process more efficiently by taking some key considerations into account when making a life insurance claim. These include:

  • Check the life insurance policy documentation: Life insurance policies and procedures can vary between providers, so before you do anything else relating to the life insurance plan, you need to check the policy document carefully. This is to make sure that you are aware of the process that you need to go through and that you have all of the relevant information that the provider is likely to ask for on hand. Have a clear understanding of the claims procedure when you first apply for the policy and store all the necessary documentation in a safe place.
  • Contact the insurance provider as soon as possible: to notify them of your intention to claim. While there may be a lot of other things going on in your life that you need to get sorted, it is critical to begin organising the claim as soon as possible to ensure the payment runs smoothly.
  • Keep a detailed record of your calls and contact: Because life insurance claims can take a considerable amount of time to process, it is all too easy to forget details that may prove important later on during the claim process. You may have to contact the life insurance provider on a number of occasions by phone, in writing, by email etc. Make sure that you keep notes of when you made contact, names of people you spoke to, copies of any letters and correspondence that you send in, etc. Keep all of these in a safe place so that you know exactly where to go should you need to refer back to them.
  • Be organised and get all the required documents ready as soon as you can to start lodging in your claim: The insurance provider will require different types of documentation and they are normally specified in the policy documentation, but you can also contact the provider for verification. This can include things such as a copy of the death certificate and details about the policyholder’s doctor/surgeon. Being organised is absolutely essential or you experience delays in receiving your benefits.

Read finder's consumer guide to claiming and finding quality cover

Some key questions you might have about submitting a claim

Life insurance claim stats

ASIC tracks the claims related disputes performance for Australian insurers. The tables below show claims and related dispute information for death cover bought directly from insurers, through advisers and through a superannuation fund between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018.

InsurerClaims accepted rateAverage claim time (months)Disputes per 100,000 lives insuredPolicy cancellation rate
AIA***21.00%
AMP***17.50%
Allianz***13.10%
ClearView97.70%2.43.816.60%
CommInsure93.30%4.122.214.20%
HCF***12.70%
Hallmark***32.10%
Hannover Re89.70%1.18.310.70%
Industry Average88.00%3.315.715.20%
MLC***16.00%
MetLife***14.20%
NobleOak***9.60%
OnePath94.50%5.466.618.00%
St Andrews85.50%2.3022.60%
Suncorp/Asteron88.00%3.629.417.20%
Swiss Re90.90%3.11.59.30%
TAL72.80%3.118.924.50%
Westpac94.60%3.18.313.30%
Zurich94.30%2.414.116.60%

*The number of finalised claims is too small to provide a reliable result.

InsurerClaims accepted rateAverage claim time (months)Disputes per 100,000 lives insuredPolicy cancellation rate
AIA97.40%2.39.415.20%
AMP97.50%5.4717.00%
ClearView***15.20%
CommInsure88.50%2.111.514.80%
Hallmark***19.40%
Industry Average96.30%3.1716.00%
MLC97.90%2.4618.00%
MetLife***25.60%
NobleOak***4.70%
OnePath96.50%4.35.616.70%
QBE/Integrity***0.00%
Suncorp/Asteron97.20%1.98.815.10%
TAL98.40%0.99.213.50%
Westpac95.00%2.22.615.20%
Zurich96.30%1.45.814.30%

* The number of finalised claims is too small to provide a reliable result.

InsurerClaims accepted rateAverage claim time (months)Disputes per 100,000 lives insured
AIA98.50%0.81
AMP99.90%8.40.4
CommInsure96.50%1.30.8
Hannover Re97.60%0.91.1
Industry Average98.20%1.30.8
MLC99.10%0.70.4
MetLife99.60%0.80.4
OnePath97.10%1.21.6
QInsure93.50%1.71.5
Suncorp/Asteron94.00%10
TAL98.50%0.80.7
Westpac98.40%1.60.5

Note: The policy cancellation rate is not shown for the superannuation fund sales channel as changes are mainly due to superannuation trustees changing the insurer of the fund.

Steps to take to sort out life insurance disputes

It's crucial to familiarise yourself with the steps that you should take in the event of insurance disputes, as this will enable you to act more decisively and use your time wisely on the proper course of action in the event that you have a dispute that needs to be addressed. In the event of a complaint or dispute you should look at taking the following steps:

  1. Check your policy. Before doing anything make sure you've read through your policy to make sure you are actually covered. Check your policy, including the small print, to see whether you actually have a case or whether the insurance firm is acting in line with its terms and conditions.
  2. Speak to your provider. If you believe there is an issue after checking the policy, you should contact your insurer and explain your concerns and discuss what can be done to resolve the dispute. Often, a satisfactory conclusion can be reached simply by speaking to the insurer and discussing the issue.
  3. Put in a complaint with your insurer. If you're unhappy with the resolution after speaking with your insurer, you will need to go through your insurers dispute resolution process. This generally requires putting your complaint in writing. Your insurer will give you a timeframe of when this issue should be resolved.
  4. If all else fails: Australian Financial Complaints Authority. If you have gone through the dispute resolution process and you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you should contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) or in the past, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Escalating your dispute may mean that you have to wait even longer for a resolution but if you have exhausted other avenues, this may be the route to take in order to get the dispute resolved once and for all.

Pre-existing medical conditions and life insurance disputes

A common cause of life insurance disputes revolves around pre-existing medical conditions. Each year, the AFCA is contacted by hundreds of cases of people following their income protection claim being rejected. The life insurance company has usually rejected the claim due to the policyholder not letting them know about a pre-existing medical condition related to their claim. These cases highlight the sheer importance of disclosing all known information to insurers before signing the contract of insurance. Many applicants will withhold details of pre-existing conditions or lifestyle habit in an attempt to save on their policy premiums. As part of the insureds duty of disclosure, it is their responsibility to state all known information regarding pre-existing medical conditions to their insurer to avoid this situation occurring.

Definition of a pre-existing medical condition

A pre-existing medical condition is commonly recognised as any condition:

  • That was previously diagnosed or investigated
  • Where there were symptoms that lead to the diagnosis prior to application
  • Or event that lead to the claim occurring took place
  • Prior to the official commencement date of the policy or the effective date of any increase of the policy sum-insured.

What are the requirements of the life insured under the duty of disclosure?

Under the insurance contract act of 1984, each applicant is required to state every matter that they know, or would be expected to know that is relevant to the insureds decision to provide cover and at what rate. Each applicant will be required to answer questions during the application regarding their health, occupation and lifestyle. It is safer to contact your insurer to discuss any matter that you are unsure about disclosing during the policy application to avoid any surprises at claim time.

Life Insurance Claims and Taxes

It is important to remember that life insurance benefit payout is not taxable at the time of a claim, if the nominated beneficiaries are financially dependent on you. These generally include:

  • Spouse/partner;
  • Child/ren under the age of 18;
  • Other financial dependents, such as siblings or ageing parents.

If you have nominated specific individuals as the benefactor of your life insurance policy and they are not financially dependent on you, there may be some tax implications.

Be prepared and save time when claiming life insurance

At a time of grief the last thing that most people want to be doing is getting stressed about making a life insurance claim. At the same time, for many people this is a necessity that needs to be sorted out as quickly as possible to avoid financial hardship in the short-term.

Being prepared can save a lot of time when it comes to making a claim on a life insurance policy. This preparation can mean everything from going through the claim procedure with the policyholder when the policy is first taken out to ensuring that you always know where you keep the policy documents in case you ever need to get hold of them and the policyholder is no longer around. Simple things like these can help you to save time and hassle when it comes to actually making a claim on a life insurance policy making it easier to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Compare Life insurance quotes from these direct brands

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(days)
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Get a quote for up to $15 million in life insurance cover. Switch to the Best Life Insurance policy as awarded by Finder and save on average 20% (See NobleOak website for details).
$2,000,000
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Join Qantas Life Insurance and earn up to 100,000 Qantas points. T&CS apply including minimum premium and policy hold periods apply to earn points.
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No expiry age as long as premiums are paid
Get a refund of 10% of the premiums you've paid (in the first 12 months) with The Real Reward™.
$1,500,000
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No expiry age as long as premiums are paid
Get life cover up to $1.5 million. Plus, Medibank health insurance members can save 10% off premiums.
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65
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80
Receive one month's premiums off every year if you pay annually upfront. T’s and C’s apply.
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Get life cover up to $1.5 million. Plus, ahm health members can save 10% off premiums.
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No expiry age as long as premiums are paid
Cover up to $1.5 million with Guardian Life Insurance.
$1,500,000
65
$100,000
30
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Tailored life insurance so you know what you're covered for upfront. Take out a policy and get a $100 bonus gift after holding cover for 2 months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 March 2020.

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