How to Write an Appeal Letter for Life Insurance Denial

March 19, 2024 | J. Price McNamara
Life Insurance Denial
How to Write an Appeal Letter for Life Insurance Denial

Receiving a denial for a life insurance claim can leave you disheartened, especially during a time when you're already dealing with the emotional stress of losing a loved one.

However, remember that denial isn't the end of the road. You have the right to appeal the decision.

Here's a brief guide from an insurance claim attorney on how to craft an effective appeal letter to increase your chances of overturning the insurance company's decision. However, the best way to appeal is to hire a life insurance lawyer to handle the process and draft all communications for you.

What Was the Reason for the Denial?

Before you start writing your appeal letter with your attorney, you must understand the reason your claim faced denial. The denial letter from the insurance company should clearly state the reason.

Common reasons for denial include lapses in policy payment, discrepancies in the application information, or the cause of death not being covered under the policy. Knowing the exact reason will allow you to address the issue directly in your appeal.

What Documentation Do You Need to Support Your Life Insurance Appeal?

Documents required for claim

In the journey to overturn a life insurance claim denial, the strength of your appeal often rests on the documentation you provide

Compiling proof of premium payments becomes important when the denial is due to lapses in policy payments. This can include bank statements, receipts, or any financial records showing you've made timely payments on the policy.

If the denial hinges on discrepancies in the application information, you might need to furnish documents that clarify or correct the information in question. This can involve that verify the health information provided at the time of application or official documents that confirm personal details like age or income.

In situations where the cause of death is under scrutiny—perhaps because the insurance company believes it falls outside the policy coverage—securing a detailed death certificate and possibly additional medical records can be key.

These documents can offer a clearer picture of the death's circumstances, potentially disputing the insurer's interpretation and showing that the policy terms cover the event.

Also, in certain complex cases, supplementary documents such as police reports, autopsy reports, or letters from physicians might be necessary. This additional evidence can offer in-depth insights into the cause of death, particularly in cases where the nature of the cause is a factor in the insurance company's decision to deny the claim.

It's worth noting that gathering these documents can be time-consuming and may require requests from several institutions or professionals, such as hospitals, doctors, or financial institutions.

Hence, start this process as soon as possible after receiving the denial with the help of an insurance benefits lawyer to give you ample time to compile a comprehensive evidence package.

Write a Clear and Concise Letter

Make your appeal letter straightforward and to the point. Here's a simple structure to follow:


Appeal Letter

Your introduction sets the stage. It should include your full name, the policy number, and the date you received the denial letter. Immediately state your intention to appeal the life insurance claim denial. This opening not only provides the essential details at a glance but also establishes the purpose of your correspondence.

State the Reason for Denial

Transparency is key in this section. Reference the reason for denial as outlined in the insurer's letter. This acknowledgment serves two purposes: it shows you have understood their initial assessment and lays the groundwork for your subsequent arguments.

By restating the reason, you ensure that your appeal addresses the specific concerns raised by the insurer, making your response as relevant as possible.

Present Your Argument

This is where your appeal letter truly begins to take shape. Articulate clearly and concisely why you believe the denial was unjustified. Address any misunderstandings head-on and provide additional context or information that can influence a reevaluation of your claim.

Be as specific as possible, linking your argument to the supporting documentation you've collected. This section should convincingly convey why revisiting the decision is warranted, backed by logical reasoning and factual evidence.

Include Supporting Documentation

Assert the inclusion of supporting documents with your appeal letter. Enumerate the documents you're attaching, such as medical records, a death certificate, proof of premium payments, or any other relevant information.

This enumeration signals your preparedness and emphasizes the factual basis of your appeal. These documents are the foundation of your argument, substantiating your claims and challenging the reasons for the denial.

Request for Review

In this part of the letter, extend a polite and respectful request for the insurance company to review your claim and the enclosed documentation anew. Express your hope for a favorable outcome, but do so in a way that respects the review process.

This appeals to the insurer's sense of fairness and duty, highlighting your expectation for a thorough and unbiased reexamination of your case.


Conclude your letter with a note of gratitude. Thank the insurance company for taking the time to consider your appeal. This not only shows courtesy but also reinforces a positive, cooperative tone.

Provide your contact information, making it easy for the insurer to reach you with questions or a decision. Indicate your eagerness for their response, subtly emphasizing the importance of this matter to you.


Finally, sign your letter. A handwritten signature adds a personal and sincere touch if submitted by mail. If sent electronically, a scanned signature can serve the same purpose.

This personalization is a reminder that your appeal is not just a formal process but a matter deeply significant to you and your family.

Following Up

After you've taken the step of submitting your appeal letter to the insurance company, the process doesn't simply end there. Ensuring that your appeal receives the consideration it deserves requires a proactive approach, and a key part of this strategy is actively following up.

It's not just about waiting to hear back. It's about actively engaging in the process to keep your case on their radar.

When you send off your appeal, make a note of the date. This action serves as a starting point for your follow-up timeline. Typically, insurance companies have a set period within which they respond to appeals, but this can vary. If the company provided a timeframe for their response in their initial denial letter or their policy documents, use this as your guide. If not, a general rule of thumb is to allow a few weeks for processing.

As this period draws to a close, if you've yet to receive any communication from the insurer, reach out. A phone call allows immediate interaction and the opportunity to express your continued interest in a resolution. Prepare to provide your name, policy number, and the date you submitted your appeal to help the representative quickly locate your information.

In your communication, whether over the phone or via email, remain polite and professional. Your goal is to keep the lines of communication open and maintain a positive relationship with the insurer. Express your understanding of the time-sensitive nature of the process and politely inquire about any updates or additional information they might need from you.

Demonstrating your commitment to resolving the issue and following up helps ensure your appeal maintains visibility. Sometimes, it might prompt a quicker review or reveal and clarify any misunderstandings.

Remember, the appeal process is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to engage actively with the insurance company. By following up appropriately, ideally with the help of an insurance benefits attorney, you're taking an important step in advocating for your case and moving toward a resolution.

What Should You Do if the Insurer Denies Your Appeal?

Insurer Denies Your Appeal

If the denial of your appeal letter happens again, this doesn't necessarily mark the end of your options. While a second denial can seem like a definitive closure, you may still pursue justice and seek a fair resolution.

First, review the insurance company's denial letter carefully. It should provide specific reasons for the continued denial of your claim. Understanding these reasons will inform your next steps. Check the insurer's policy on further appeals. Some companies may permit a second or third appeal, especially if you can present new evidence or information.

Should you exhaust the internal appeals process, or if you feel the insurer's decision is unjust, seek an external review. In many jurisdictions, you can bring your case to an independent ombudsman or a regulatory agency that oversees insurance practices.

These bodies can offer a neutral review of your claim and the insurer's decision. Filing a complaint or request for review with such an agency often requires submitting documentation of your claim, the denials, and any correspondence related to your appeals.

Legal action is another avenue, though it requires careful consideration. Consulting with a life insurance attorney can provide insight into the viability of pursuing a lawsuit against the insurance company. An insurance benefits attorney can assess the strength of your case, advise on the likelihood of success, and outline the potential costs involved.

Throughout this process, documentation is your ally. Keep detailed records of all communications with the insurance company, including denial letters, appeal letters, and any supporting documents you've submitted. This documentation will be valuable whether you're seeking an external review or considering legal action.

Remember, each step taken after a denial—whether it's further appeals, seeking external review, or consulting with an insurance benefits lawyer—should be weighed carefully. Consider the emotional and financial implications, and seek professional advice to guide your decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I hire a lawyer to help with my life insurance appeal?

Yes, you can hire a lawyer at any stage of the appeal process. An insurance lawyer can provide valuable guidance, aid in your understanding of the details of your policy and the appeals process, and represent your interests effectively. They can also draft a compelling appeal letter, gather necessary documentation, and, if needed, take legal action on your behalf.

How long does the insurance company have to respond to my appeal?

The response time can vary depending on the insurance company, the specifics of your policy, and the regulations in your jurisdiction. Typically, insurers have a set period, often 30 to 60 days, to respond to an appeal. Reviewing your policy documents or contacting your insurance provider for specific timelines is important.

What is an independent medical examination (IME), and should I agree to one?

The insurance company may request An independent medical examination to verify the cause of death or to gather more information about the deceased's health at the time of policy application.

While it's generally within your rights to agree to an IME, consult an insurance benefits lawyer to understand the implications and ensure it's in your best interest.

Can the insurance company cancel my policy after I file an appeal?

Insurance companies cannot cancel your policy simply because you have filed an appeal. Policies are legally binding contracts, and cancellation can only occur under circumstances outlined within your policy, such as non-payment of premiums or fraud.

What if my policy was through my employer, and I'm no longer employed there?

If your life insurance policy was part of an employee benefits package, and you no longer work there, the appeal process might differ. Specific laws may govern the policy, such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Seek legal advice if necessary to understand your policy, including any conversion rights or continuation options.

Can I submit new evidence if I find it after filing my appeal?

The ability to submit new evidence varies by insurance company policy and the appeal stage. Generally, if new, relevant information comes to light, submit it as part of your appeal. However, consult a legal professional to correctly and appropriately submit new evidence.

What happens if I miss the deadline to file an appeal?

Missing the deadline to file an appeal can significantly affect your ability to challenge the denial of your claim. However, some insurance companies may grant extensions under certain circumstances.

If you've miss the deadline, contact the insurer as soon as possible to discuss your options. Again, seek legal advice to explore potential remedies or alternative actions.

Seek Professional Help from an Insurance Claim Lawyer if Needed

J. Price McNamara, Life Insurance Attorney
J. Price McNamara, Life Insurance Lawyer

Writing an appeal letter for a life insurance denial is critical in challenging the insurance company's decision. Understanding the reason for denial, gathering supporting documentation, and crafting a clear and concise letter can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

If you're unsure about how to proceed or find your appeal particularly complicated, seek professional help from an ERISA insurance claims lawyer. Reach out for guidance and support throughout the process.

J. Price McNamara Author Image

J. Price McNamara


Losing my own brother, then my father and sister after long, disabling illnesses just a few months apart drove a career change for me. Before that experience, I never truly understood the place you’re in. I never understood the dramatic impact that receiving (or not receiving) the disability and life insurance benefits you paid for and counted on can have on your life especially when you need to focus on family and healing. What I experienced with my own family now drives the way I view my clients and my work, and I will never forget it!

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