What percentage of life insurance policies payout?

4 in 5 people think that only 80% of claims are paid out[1].

In fact, despite this common misconception, 98% of UK life insurance claims result in a successful payout.

This comprises a payout rate of 97.4% with regards to term life insurance and 99.99% for whole of life insurance policies[2].

Did you know you can secure life insurance through Reassured from just 20p-a-day?

At Reassured, we only work with market-leading insurers to ensure you not only receive the best deal but that your loved ones benefit from your cover.

Life insurance payout rates

Life insurance payout rates vary depending on the insurer, however, the reality far exceeds speculation with the average being 98%.

As illustrated below, the majority of insurers Reassured arrange policies on behalf of, achieve a payout rate of over 98%.

Life insurance payout rates

The above pay out rate statistics were taken from the respective insurer websites and were correct as of 01/01/20

What is a life insurance payout?

A life insurance payout refers to the sum of money received by a policyholder's beneficiaries upon their passing.

The payout is received following a successful claim on a valid life insurance policy.

Occasionally a payout can be made directly to the policyholder if the policy includes terminal illness cover and they're diagnosed as having less than 12 months to live.

All term life insurance policies arranged through Reassured include terminal illness cover as standard.

Does life insurance payout the full amount?

Providing that the claim is valid, life insurance providers will never pay out a percentage of the value owed to your loved ones.

As a result, you can rest assured that if a successful claim is made, your beneficiaries will receive the full amount as stated in your policy.

The one exception to this is if the policyholder passes away during the waiting period of an over 50 life insurance plan.

This is a period of time at the start of the policy, (12 or 24 months), a policyholder must survive before a full payout is issued if death occurs of natural causes.

If you were to pass away during the waiting period, instead of receiving a full payout your loved ones would receive either a refund of the premiums paid or a percentage of the sum assured.

How much life insurance do you need?

Enter your financial commitments to understand the level of cover you require.


£121,687 is the estimated average outstanding mortgage per household in the UK.

Our property is generally the largest financial commitment any of us will make.

Your life insurance should cover this significant debt should you no longer be around.


According to Money Advice Service, full-time childcare in the UK now costs £242 a week.

The loss of a parent could result in the need for additional childcare whilst the surviving parent increases their hours to account for lost income.

Your life insurance cover should factor in this additional required outgoing.


The average level of debt (minus a mortgage) in the UK is £15,385.

Factoring in any outstanding debts in your name when arranging life insurance ensures this burden is not passed to loved ones.


You may wish to leave your loved ones an inheritance or lump sum gift upon your passing.

Factoring in the gift amount when arranging your cover will ensure the pay out amount will be sufficient to provide your loved ones with this selfless gesture.


According to SunLife, the average cost of a UK funeral is now £4,417, whilst the total cost of dying is £9,493.

This is a 130% increase over the past 16 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

A significant cost which should be factored into the amount of life insurance you secure.


If you are one of the 65% of the UK who are lucky enough to have savings, this could be used as protection if you were to pass away.

Any pay outs from existing life insurance policies and investments can also be used as financial protection for your loved ones if you were no longer around.

Factor this into your required cover amount.

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Will the payout be a lump sum?

Generally speaking, life insurance payouts will be made in a one-off lump sum, either directly or via the deceased’s estate.

The one exception to this is family income benefit.

Whilst not strictly life insurance, this form of cover provides ongoing monthly, tax-free payments for a fixed term.

It's ideal for replacing a lost salary as a result of your passing and helps reduce the need for complicated long-term budgeting.

What is the average life insurance payout in the UK?

The average life insurance payout varies significantly depending on the type of cover in place.

For example, in 2019, the average value of a term-based life insurance payout was £77,535, whereas it was £3,465 for whole of life policies[2].

This is because whole of life policies are often taken out in later life when it can be costly to secure a high sum assured.

As a result, policyholders tend to opt for lower levels of protection.

When do life insurers payout?

A life insurance claim can be made as soon as someone passes away, although a death certificate will be required before a payout is issued.

Upon receipt of a successful claim, the payout will be made to the beneficiaries of the policy and payment will usually be received within 30 days.

In order for the claim to be valid:

  • Payments on the policy must be up to date
  • The policy must not have expired (if term-based)
  • All information provided at application must have been correct

It's also possible for an insurer to make a payout to the policyholder directly if they're diagnosed with a serious condition and are given less than 12 months to live.

This requires the policy to have terminal illness cover included; something which is standard on all term policies offered through Reassured.

Is a life insurance payout guaranteed?

Whilst a payout can never be 100% guaranteed, as long as all information has been fully disclosed, your loved ones will more than likely receive a payout.

Term-based life insurance, however, doesn't guarantee a payout as the term of the policy may expire before your passing.

These cost-effective policies are often used to cover a mortgage debt or protect a family until the children are financially independent.

If you're looking for a guaranteed payout, depending on your age, it's best to consider whole of life or an over 50s plan.

Both of these forms of life cover provide protection for life, ensuring that it'll always be possible to file a claim.

How long does it take to get a life insurance payout?

Once a claim has been filed, it takes on average a month for the beneficiaries to receive the proceeds, although there are instances where this can take longer.

When a policyholder passes away, a claim on their life insurance can be filed immediately.

However, you'll require a death certificate before a payout can be made.

On the other hand, there's no time limit in which the claim must be filed.

What could cause a delayed insurance payout?

Whilst a payout can be made in as little as a month, there are some instances where this could be delayed.

Most policies include a contestability clause (usually 2 years) where the insurer can request further information regarding the death.

This may be through the form of post-mortem notes/medical records and allows the insurer to determine whether any information was withheld during the application.

Life insurance policies also tend to have a suicide clause where a payout will be denied if the policyholder commits suicide within a certain time frame, (usually 2 years).

Therefore, if the policyholder dies of suspected suicide during this period, a payout will be delayed until the cause of death is confirmed.

Finally, if the policyholder dies as a result of homicide a payout will usually be delayed until a verdict has been reached.

Each of these causes for delay can vary significantly and in all instances, a payout won't be made until the insurer is certain the policy is valid.

When a life insurance payout will be refused

It has already been identified that payout rates are significantly higher than most believe, however, it's inevitable that there'll be times when they're declined.

In reality, the three main reasons life insurance payouts are refused include:

  1. Suicide
  2. Non-disclosure
  3. Missed payments

Please note, an instance of any of the above may result in a payout being declined.

As a result, it's important to be honest during the application process and ensure you always remain up to date with your payments.

We've written a dedicated article on when does life insurance not pay out if you require more information and detail.

Who gets the payout?

Generally speaking, a life insurance payout is made to the following:

  • Your spouse
  • Your next of kin
  • Your children
  • The person named in your will
  • Named beneficiary in trust

The best way to ensure all of your life insurance payout is received by those you desire is by writing your life insurance in trust.

This allows you to specify someone (a trustee) to carry out your wishes after you're gone, ensuring your loved ones receive the payout. Much like an executor of a will.

If married, by default, the proceeds of your life insurance will automatically be paid to your spouse.

What happens to a life insurance with no beneficiary?

When no beneficiary is stated on a life insurance policy, the payout usually goes to your next of kin.

The sum assured will form part of your estate and will undergo the same processes as other assets.

This includes probate and being subject to inheritance tax.

The proceeds of your estate will then be distributed as stated in your will.

Where a will is not present, again it'll fall to your next of kin.

Do you have to pay taxes on a life insurance payout in the UK?

Upon your passing, the value of your life insurance policy forms part of your estate.

Therefore, anything over the value of £325,000 is subject to 40% inheritance tax.

However, it's possible to avoid/reduce the amount your loved ones pay in inheritance tax by writing your life insurance in trust.

This can detach the policy proceeds from your estate, ensuring your loved ones receive 100% of your selfless investment.

It also reduces the overall value of your estate decreasing, if not eliminating altogether, the amount of inheritance tax paid.

Receiving an early life insurance payout

Whilst it's most common for a payout to be made to your beneficiaries after you've passed away, it's possible to receive a payout before dying.

All term life insurance policies provided through Reassured come with terminal illness cover as standard.

This means that if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness and given less than 12 months to live, you can make an early claim.

If you have critical illness cover you can also make an early claim.

These funds can then be used to put future arrangements in place for your family, such as:

  • Making necessary adaptations to your home
  • Paying for private medical treatment
  • Settle any outstanding debt
  • Providing an inheritance
  • Enjoy your final days with those you love

Does the payout stay the same no matter when you die?

When arranging life insurance cover, the sum assured is specified at application.

This is the amount your loved ones will receive upon your passing and remains fixed throughout the policy.

However, the exception to this is decreasing term life insurance.

Designed to cover a repayment mortgage, the sum assured with decreasing term policies is set to decline in line with the remaining mortgage balance.

As a result, the further into the policy you pass away, the smaller the payout received.

How do life insurance payouts work? (Making a life insurance claim)

Some people are unsure of how the payout process works.

To obtain a life insurance payout, a simple claims process must be followed.

This can vary between insurers, but as a general rule:

  • Contact the insurer to make them aware you wish to make a claim
  • Request a claims pack via email or post
  • Fill in the forms and provide the required documentation, (death certificate, claim form, policy document)
  • Receive payment either directly or as part of the deceased’s estate

Don’t know the name of the insurer

It's a common occurrence that upon the death of a loved one, the life insurance details are unknown.

In this instance, you should refer to the register of consolidations on the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Here you'll find the information required to identify whether your loved one had life insurance, and if so, with whom the cover was held.

For more information read our article on how to find out if someone has life insurance »

What can you do with a life insurance payout?

The use of a life insurance payout is solely at the discretion of the beneficiaries.

Typically a life insurance payout is used for:

  • Mortgage repayment
  • Covering rising funeral costs
  • Paying outstanding debts and bills
  • Meeting ongoing family living costs
  • Providing an inheritance

Find the right life insurance payout for you

Ultimately, the likelihood and process of a life insurance payout vary between insurers, as does the cost of premiums.

To ensure you receive the right cover to meet your needs, at the best price, it's essential to compare quotes from multiple insurers.

At Reassured, we can source these quotes for you - helping you to save time and money.

We compare quotes from the best life insurance providers, some of which have a 99% payout rate.

Our award-winning life insurance broker service can provide you with free quotes.

Simply get in touch to start your life insurance journey today.


[1] http://www.pacificlifere.com/content/dam/paclife_corp/pre/public/publications/pacific_momentoftruth_8pp_LOW.pdf

[2] https://www.abi.org.uk/news/news-articles/2020/05/record-98.3-of-protection-claims-paid-out-in-2019/

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