Posted on Insurance Law Blog / Blog / My Loved One Died Pending California’s Life Insurance Application Process, Now What?

Page Updated 12/08/2021

My Loved One Died Pending California’s Life Insurance Application Process, Now What?

When a person dies before the insurance company can issue a life insurance policy, such a situation raises questions as to whether or not death benefits are applicable here.

The process for this varies according to the state law the person dies in.

In California, there is case law and even a statute that brings to light such circumstances and how to deal with them.

Ehline Law is Here for Life Insurance Policy Troubles

Case Law: Ransom V Penn. Mutual Life (an Insurance Company)

In 1954 in the state of California, an incident took place where the insured lost their life in a car accident. The insured purchased a life insurance policy and even made their first insurance premium payment. however, soon after, he died in a car accident.

The case was first of the kind as the plaintiff went after the insurance company to get a life insurance claim. The ruling in the Supreme Court went against the defendant (the insurance company) and the plaintiff (Ransom) won the case.

Ransom argued that the intention of the policyholder or the insured was to draw on death benefits from the life insurance in the future in case of death. The insured had a completed application and made their first payment towards the insurance premium suggesting that they were looking towards drawing on the insurance coverage in the future.

The plaintiff’s attorney argued that it would go against the insurance coverage policy and the insurance contract if the death benefit or the life insurance claim saw a rejection.

The attorney went on to state that the defendant’s receipt of the insurance application and the initial premium payment was enough to constitute the applicant as paying policyholder and it was the responsibility of the insurance company to release the death benefit.

The case law here laid foundations for temporary insurance protection where the policyholder can receive life insurance benefits on the condition that the insurance company has gotten their application and the premium payment.

The only time an insurance company can refuse life insurance benefits is when they have already rejected the application before the death of the applicant and refund their premium payment.

California Insurance Code Further Clarifies the Position on Life Insurance Policies

California insurance code §10115 makes it an obligation for the insurance company to release life insurance coverage to the policyholder who dies during the insurance process on the condition of application acceptance and that the life insurance company acknowledges the first premium payment.

If an insured has sent an application for life insurance and makes the first payment of the life insurance policy, but dies before the insurance policy gets approval from the firm, the insurer has to pay life insurance benefits.

Most life insurance companies in such situations refuse to make death benefits payments to the policyholder’s family on grounds that the policy was not in effect, however, according to California law, the family can make recoveries by taking legal action.

If you are having troubles with a life insurance company and would like to seek help to obtain a recovery for your deceased spouse, contact Ehline Law now and get a free consultation on your life insurance claims.

How to File for Life Insurance Claims for Surviving Spouse

A surviving spouse can follow the steps below to file for life insurance claims with life insurers and make some death benefit recoveries.

Compile Relevant Documents

It can be depressing to lose a loved one, and this can get stressful when you reach out to an insurance company for claims. Family members can make this process easy by gathering three important documents that most insurance companies require.

You would need to gather the following:

  • Death certificate
  • Policy document
  • Claim form

Contact the Insurer

Once you have all the documents on hand, contact the insurance company and let them know that the policy owner has died and it’s time that they pay the death benefit.

In situations where the policyholder passes away during the application process, insurance companies will not require medical records. However, it is always better to be ready for anything as insurance firms would rather delay and not payout.


During the underwriting process, insurance firms require that the policyholder names a beneficiary in their application form in case they die so that their family member or primary beneficiary gets the claim.

The financial firm will double-check these details, the policy contract, and the receipt of the premium payment. These three things are important to get a payout according to California law. The company will then verify your identity by asking you for your identity card, which may include a driver’s license, birth certificate, or even your Social Security card.

Receive Death Benefits

Once everything seems clear, the company will process your claim, which can take a few days or can even go up to a couple of months. Make sure to stay in touch with the insurance company and give them all the details they require to make this process smooth for yourself.

Life Insurance Company Will Try to Deny Claims Even When You Pay Premiums

Denying claims is something that has become a malicious practice with life insurance companies or any other insurance company for that matter. Many insurance companies do not work in the best interest of the insured person and insurers deny claims to maximize their profits.

Looking to draw on the death benefits of your former spouse? Have trouble with the insurance company for a claim? For more detail, contact us now at (213) 596-9642 and get a free consultation with our expert attorneys where they will give you legal advice on your case!

Ehline Law firm has had immense success representing more than 3,000 clients. Our Los Angeles injury attorneys have vast experience dealing with insurance companies.

We will use all resources to help you file for a claim, pursue a legal battle and get you the life insurance money that you deserve. Visit our website or any of our 15 law offices across California for general information purposes.

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Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 596-9642
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