22 Oct, 2021 | Term Life Insurance

Who gets the term insurance money if a policyholder dies?

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The last couple of years have impacted our lives like nothing before. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all learned that life is short and unpredictable. We have come face-to-face with our own frailty and are accepting the fact that death is real. If you are a main earning member of the family, you’ve definitely had thoughts of worry about how your family will cope without you - emotionally as well as financially - if you’re suddenly not there anymore. And, a quick Google search can tell you that buying a term insurance plan is the best strategy to protect their well-being (at least financially) - should your death happen!

Term Insurance is an affordable and simple type of life insurance that provides your family with a sum of money if you pass away during the term of the policy. As long as you pay your premiums on time and keep the policy active, your family will receive a death benefit - which they can use to fulfill their monetary needs - be it regular monthly expenses or long-term dreams and goals - without compromising their current lifestyle. 

In this article, we’ll learn about who this death benefit will be paid to, and what you could do to ensure it reaches the people that you intend it for. Let’s dive right in!

Who gets the death benefit amount, from term insurance?

The Nominee does. When you buy a term insurance policy, you are required to identify a nominee (or multiple nominees) who will receive the claim amount when you pass away. You can choose any family member to be your nominee - your wife, children, or even your parents. 

  • While picking a nominee, think about whether they can go through the claims process by themselves or not. If you think they can’t, ensure you choose a good financial advisor to work with to help and guide them, when you won’t be around. 
  • Further, think about whether or not they’ll be able to manage a large sum of money by themselves. If you think they might lose the money in poor investments - ensure you choose a monthly income component in the claim payout - so their needs are secured in the long term. 

Note - You can add or change nominees any number of times during the course of your policy term. So, ensure you are updating your nominee according to your life changes - as the policy can last many years - and decades even!  

Who gets the term insurance claim, if the nominee is no more?

We have heard of extremely tragic incidents where many members of the family pass away due to one unfortunate incident. In such situations, it could happen that the person you’ve chosen as the nominee is dead by the time of the term insurance claim. What can you do about such situations?

In case the death of the nominee happens before yours, you must ensure you change/ update nominee details. This can get trickier, in case both deaths happen at the same time (or, you do not have enough time to update the nominee details).

One good way to work around this is to create a Will. In the Will, you can include detailed instructions on who should receive the amount, and on what conditions. The Will is a strong instrument that can help you protect the interests of your family - should something happen to the person you selected as a nominee. 

An interesting point. You can also use the Will to give an amount from the claim to a person you’re not related to. It could be a cousin, even a friend. 

And similar to a Nominee - the Will can also be changed any number of times. Your last Will is the document that will be implemented with respect to how you wish to disburse your term insurance amount. 

Who’ll get the term insurance claim, if there’s no will?

In the unfortunate circumstance that you did not create a will, and your nominee is dead too - the claim amount will be distributed amongst your legal heirs. 

This, however, could be a tedious process - and your family might need to wait for many days before getting the Legal Heir document to prove their right to the claim amount. And meanwhile, they could be hounded by bills, creditors, and other payments that need to be done. 

So, to avoid this, ensure you are updating your nominee details, as well as your will regularly. 

Another important question - What if you have loans to be paid off? 

Let’s say you took out a large loan to buy your own house, and have arranged for the installments to be paid over the next 20 years. Unfortunately, if your death happens before you can fulfill this repayment - your family will need to pay it off. 

In fact, your creditors and the bank will have the first right to your term insurance amount - and will receive their payout even before the money reaches your family. 

There’s a way around this - that works in the case that you’re male and want your wife to be the receiver of the claim money. Through a legal provision called the Married Women’s Property Act (or, MWP Act) - you can ensure that your wife will be the first recipient of your term insurance claim amount - before your creditors. 

The Married Women’s Property Act (MWP) provides the married woman and her children the right to receive a smooth and hassle-free claim settlement.

How can you add the MWP Act to your term insurance?

You can do this by adding a simple addendum to your term insurance application. 

But, remember - 

  • You can only add the MWP Addendum at the time of buying the term insurance policy and never later
  • You cannot remove the MWP Addendum later - even in case of a divorce. 

If you’re male and want to ensure the claim amount reaches your wife and children - we recommend that you buy the term insurance policy with the MWP Act. 

If you have any further questions related to term insurance, adding a nominee, or the MWP Act, you can post them on the Beshak Insurance Forum, and get responses from experts in 6-8 hours!

Key takeaways
  1. Term Insurance policy is affordable and the simplest insurance policy. 
  2. After buying a term insurance policy, you are supposed to identify a nominee or nominees- who will receive the term claim amount after you’ve passed away.
  3. While choosing a nominee, make sure he/she is aware of the claim settlement process. And if you believe your nominee will not be able to go through the claim process by themselves then you should choose a good financial advisor, who can help you and your nominee throughout your term journey.   
  4. You must keep in mind the financial ability of your nominee and see if they will be able to manage large amounts of money together. If not then you must consider other claim payout options. 
  5. In case the nominee also passes away, a Will can be the next safe option. With the help of a Will, you can safeguard your family’s interest and your term money if your nominee passes away. 
  6. However, if you haven’t written a Will and your nominee also passes away, then the term amount is distributed between your legal heirs. 
  7. If you pass away and haven’t yet cleared off your loans, the term insurance money will first be given to your creditor or bank to pay off your loans. But, this can be avoided with the MWP Act.
  8. The Married Women’s Property Act ensures your wife receives the term claim amount directly without the involvement of a third party. Once you have bought your term policy under the MWP Act, you cannot make any changes with regard to your nominee.
Team Beshak
Written by,
Team Beshak, We breathe insurance :)

We are a group of young members of the Beshak community. We come together to brainstorm, write relevant and useful content for people (just like us) who want to figure insurance on their own. If you too want to share inputs/write for us - send us a "hey" to info@beshak.org

1 Comments
30 Oct, 2021
by: Saurabh K

super informative !!!

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31 Oct, 2021
by: Aayush Dubey

Thanks a lot, Saurabh!


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Term Life Insurance
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