Life Insurance

Claim Examiners: Not every Heroes Wear Capes

I've always loved that saying, “Not all heroes wear capes.” It's usually accompanied by pictures of pizza deliverymen, those who work on Chick-fil-A, or various other methods for saying we like people who make life better (or in the case of my examples, more delicious).

Going into an interview with Jeff Butcher, Senior Claims Examiner at MassMutual, I didn't realize I'd be so touched through the role of the claims examiner. To tell the truth, when I really thought about it, I figured it must be a pretty depressing job. A claims examiner may be the person who handles the payout of a life insurance coverage. They cope with death and loss every single day.

You'll soon see Jeff doesn't view his role this way.

The reason I spoken with Jeff is because MassMutual issues the Haven Term policy and, thus, accounts for paying death benefits. (This is a good thing for the customers because whenever you buy term life insurance, you want to know the policy is from a business that has a long history of financial strength and timely payment of claims.)

We obtain a lot of questions from our customers and applicants about how the claims process works. Luckily, we've use of claim examiners like Jeff.

How have you be a claims examiner?

I started with MassMutual in 2000, included in the Life Service Center. Being a member of the service center gave me a unique perspective of intricacies of most departments at MassMutual. And that is in which the most of claims begin – within the answering services company.

As a call center representative, you answer the initial calls from customers and often communicate with members of the deceased's family. After getting some initial information from the person calling, they're going towards the claims department to start the procedure. I was always very interested in being a member of the full claims process. Then, an opening came obtainable in 2005.

I believe the claims department is the greatest way, being an employee, to help our customers. We fulfill the ultimate promise.

I'd think your work would be very challenging, but you say you're able to fulfill our policyholders' “ultimate promise.” I love that. Exactly what do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I like most about my job is the chance to help people throughout a very hard time in their lives. These people are typically shocked and unprepared for that loss they're facing. Contrary I actually do can alleviate some pain or burden from their store, then that's very rewarding to me.

As a claims examiner, you are in charge of fulfilling the best commitment that MassMutual makes for their policy owners. Our commitment is to help people secure the future of and protect the ones they love. It's a powerful thing.

The impression that people make as examiners on our beneficiaries can last many years.

Who can get in touch with to submit an existence insurance claim?

Initial notification of death typically originates from those nearest the deceased, including beneficiaries and members of the family. However, the beneficiary must be the main one to accomplish the claim requirements in order to receive the death benefit proceeds.

When calling in to start the claims process, it's most helpful if you can provide the following information:

  • Relationship towards the deceased
  • Personal details about the insured, beneficiary and date of death
  • Policy number
  • If there is a reason behind urgency, inform them!

What may be the full process for submitting a claim?

Typically, the full process goes like this:

  1. The death of the insured is reported by a beneficiary or family member
  2. The claims department prepares the case for examination
  3. The case is reviewed and appropriate claims requirements are delivered to the beneficiary
  4. Beneficiary must complete the requirements form and submit with the deceased's death certificate
  5. The claims department looks at the submission to determine the requirements are completed accordingly
  6. Payment is distributed to the beneficiary. (When the beneficiary can't be found or does not complete the claim in a certain time period, the proceeds are escheated to the appropriate state.)

Does the procedure differ significantly when you will find multiple beneficiaries?

When there are multiple beneficiaries, each of them must fill out their very own claim form.

What happens if you cannot make contact with a beneficiary, or maybe they do not know an insurance policy exists?

At MassMutual, we're very proactive about trying to locate beneficiaries. When you sell life insurance to someone, you are making a promise to provide the claim to their loved ones who they really are trying to financially protect. We work hard to follow along with through and fulfill that process.

If we can not make contact with a beneficiary, we have measures in place to try and reach them. You will find individuals within our company whose responsibilities include finding contact details for beneficiaries or members of the family.

In a scenario where perhaps a beneficiary doesn't know their deceased family member has a life insurance coverage, we proactively match our records against the Social Security Death Master File (aka the DMF) along with other death records databases on a monthly and quarterly basis. When these databases get that an insured has died along with a claim has not been started, then we start the claims process and check out and discover the beneficiary.

What is the typical time period for paying out claims?

Typically, from the time we are notified from the death to when payment is released, it takes about Thirty days. We attempt very hard to stick within this time period.

Is a death benefit taxable?

A death benefit is generally not taxable to the beneficiary. However, in the date the policyholder dies, whether a beneficiary has notified us or not, the death benefit begins to accrue interest since the insurer is keeping it and must pay interest just like your bank would. You get taxed on the improvement in accrued interest. The speed for a death benefit issued is typically 3 percent annually. So, if the death benefit goes unreleased for a year with that $500,000 policy, you'll accrue $15,000 in interest, which may be taxable. Whether it went 30 days, you'd receive $1,250.

If you have further questions about the claims process, we're happy to reach out to Jeff and help address them. Send us an email: