How do life insurance payouts work?

A life insurance payout is a one-off tax-free payment that usually takes less than two weeks to be processed.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

A life insurance payout goes to whoever is listed as the beneficiary on the policy which is decided by the person who takes out cover. Luckily, most take less than two weeks to be processed, are tax-free and can pay out more than $1 million.

How does life insurance pay out?

Generally, a life insurance payout is a one-off lump sum payment in the region of $100,000 to $1.5 million. It goes to the person or persons the policyholder (the person who has passed away) has nominated as their beneficiaries – this is usually a family member or loved one.

The beneficiaries of the person who died will generally need to submit a claim to the life insurer. Most people will be aware that they have been listed as the beneficiary – the person who took out the policy should usually inform you. But if you're not made aware, you can make a search on the ASIC unclaimed money register.

How do I receive a life insurance payout?

These are the four main steps to a life insurance payout.


Call the insurer

The insurer's information should be available on the policyholder's certificate of insurance.


Provide them with a death certificate

You'll need to submit a certified copy of the death certificate when you get in touch with the insurer. This is so they can verify that the policyholder has passed away.


File a claim

The insurer will send you a claims form. You'll need to fill that out and provide any information it asks for. For example, the insurance policy details outlining that you are the person the policyholder has listed as their beneficiary. You can usually fill it out and submit online.


Wait for your life insurance payout

Life insurance payouts are usually made to the beneficiary within two weeks of the claim being submitted. If your claim is denied, you can file an internal dispute with your insurer or the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

🕒 How long does it take life insurance to pay out?

In most cases, a life insurance payout should take less than two weeks to be processed and for the funds to be deposited into your account.

According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA),

  • 69% of life insurance claims are paid out in less than 2 weeks
  • 21% take between 2 weeks and 2 months
  • 7% take between 2 and 6 months
  • 2% take between 6 months and 12 months
  • Only 1% take longer than 12 months to be processed

Can life insurance pay out before death?

✅ Yes, this is known as a terminal illness benefit and it's included in most policies. For this to happen, your medical practitioner needs to state that you don't have much longer to live. Depending on the insurer, you can generally have your insurance paid out if it is documented that you have less than 12 months or 24 months left to live.

To claim under a terminal illness benefit, the process is much the same. You or the beneficiaries you've listed simply need to call the insurer and they'll provide you with the paperwork and next steps you need to take.

Compare life insurance policies in Australia

Name Product Maximum Cover Maximum Entry Age Fully Underwritten? Terminal Illness Benefit Optional Extras
NobleOak Life Insurance
TPD cover, Trauma cover
Get your one month free when you buy NobleOak Life Insurance policy. Offer ends 30 September 2021. T&C's apply.
Medibank Life Insurance
TPD cover, Trauma cover
Medibank health members save 10% on premiums every year. T&Cs apply.
Real Family Life Cover
TPD cover, Trauma cover
Get a refund of 10% of the premiums you've paid (in the first 12 months) with The Real Reward™ .
Zurich Ezicover Life Insurance
No optional
Get your first month free and a 10% discount by taking out a second life insurance policy (discount applies to the second policy). Customers who suffer a serious side effect from an approved COVID vaccination may be eligible for a $50,000 one-off payment. T&C’s apply.

Compare up to 4 providers

FAQs about life insurance payouts

    Picture: GettyImages

    More guides on Finder

    Ask an Expert

    You are about to post a question on

    • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
    • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
    • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
    • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

    Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
    Go to site